This is the first book-length study of the development of civility in Chinese societies. Although some social scientists and political philosophers have discussed civility, none has defined it as an analytical tool to systematically measure attitudes and behavior, and few have applied it to a non-Western society. By comparing the development of civility in mainland China and Taiwan, Civility and Its Development: The Experiences of China and Taiwan analyzes the social conditions needed for civility to become established in a society. Schak argues that the attempts to impose civility top-down from the state are ineffective. Civility appeared in Taiwan only after state efforts to impose it ceased at the end of the 1980s when Taiwan began to democratize, and the PRC government civility campaigns have so far had only limited success. The book concludes with an examination of various differences between Taiwan and the PRC relevant to Taiwan’s having become a society with civility while the PRC still encounters difficulties in doing so. The essential factor in developing civility in Taiwan, Schak contends, was its evolution from a place composed of myriad small, inward-looking communities to a society in which everyone shares a strong identity and civic consciousness, and people consider others as fellow members, not anonymous strangers.
David C. Schak is currently an adjunct associate professor in the Department of International Business and Asian Studies and the Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University, Australia. Prior to retirement he taught Asian studies at Griffith University. He is the author of A Chinese Beggars’ Den: Poverty and Mobility in an Underclass Community and co-editor of Civil Society in Asia.