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A Civilised Gemeinschaft: Ally of Civil Society in Capitalist Development

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image of Asian Journal of Social Science

We have seen a new, distinctive and, to a considerable extent, self-directed implantation and flourishing of capitalist enterprises and accumulation in a number of previously economically under-developed parts of the world. This has been particularly notable in East Asia and coastal China, among some minorities in Southeast Asia and North America and also in parts of Eastern and Southern Europe.

The first part of the paper discusses classical theories of civil society as an essential seedbed for capitalist development. The next section argues that some attributes of such a civil society are today interpenetrating with aspects of gemeinschaft type relationships of kinship and community, blurring the distinction and drawing from the combination a renewed dynamism, flexibility and developmental power. In the last sections, a closer look is taken at two situations of recently re-invigorated capitalist activity, amongst Chinese diaspora capitalists outside the mainland, and in the successful, export-oriented industrialisation of the villages of coastal China. The aim is to see if light can be thrown on these recently successful cases, by the notion of a strengthened civil society, reinvigorated by such a civilised gemeinschaft.


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