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6 Conclusion

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Chapter Summary

This last chapter starts with some reflections of the role of -isms in China since 1949 and then proceeds to a general presentation of the book’s findings. Although there are certainly parallels to developments in the West, the Chinese case of the modernization of ideological discourse is in many ways unique. On a linguistic level, this is reflected in the high productivity of words in -zhǔyì and especially their independence relative to Western models. Conceptually, the positive value attached to ‘zhǔyì’ as a key concept is perhaps the most salient feature. Rhetorically speaking, the ubiquity of zhǔyì reductionism in public discourse and the intensity of its deployment is remarkable. Although the point of gravity of ismatic discourse has shifted somewhat in in the direction of lifestyle -isms since the rise of the consumer society in the Chinese world, -isms are still very much in evidence today. The ideological optimism of the early twentieth century may be gone, but the potential of zhǔyì rhetoric is far from exhausted.


10.1163/9789004292741_007
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