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[Biweekly Symposium] No. 547:The Internal Consistency of the Institutional System: An Analytical Framework for Modernisation
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Biweekly Symposium No. 547:The Internal Consistency of the Institutional System: An Analytical Framework for Modernisation

Lecturer: XU Xiaonian

Host: QIN Sidao

Commentators: SHI Xiaomin, WU Qing, WU Si


Professor XU Xiaonian started with introducing the research framework. He introduced that his research took the institutions as a system with several sub-systems among which there was consistency. The lack of consistency between the sub-systems may result in malfunction or failure of the system.


He pointed out that systematic analysis was proposed by Talcott Parsons, American sociologist, and Chinese scholars such as JIN Guantao, and LIU Qingsong also contributed to this analytical framework. He stressed that this analytical framework was applied in the analysis of the modernisation of states in the world. Two aspects are analysed, the efficiency, and the stability. The research aims to provide an explanatory framework, instead of disclosing a causation or forecasting future modernisation path. He divided the institution system of modern societies into three sub-systems: conceptual sub-system, political sub-system, and economic sub-system.


The core spirit of the conceptual sub-system of the modern society is equal individual rights and freedoms; the political sub-system includes constitutionalism, democracy, and rule of law; and the economic sub-system referred to the free market economy. Only when all sub-systems are coordinate, will the institutional system function well. Otherwise, frictions and contradictions will occur.


In reflecting upon the modernisation prices of other states in the world, Professor XU Xiaonian divided them into two types: the first type includes modern social state emerged from feudalism, such as Germany and Japan; the other type includes Stalinist countries emerged from imperial bureaucratic countries. As Professor XU Xiaonian concludes, there is mismatch between sub-systems in the modernisation of the states. The inconsistency between sub-systems is a result of nationalism which recognises the pursuit of abstract national interests instead of individual rights. The second type of modernisation loses in terms of efficiency.


Professor XU Xiaonian emphasised that China drew from the lessons of the former Soviet Union and undertook economic reforms. In the Stalinism system, only part of the economic sub-system was changed into partial market and partial state-owned, which brought issues such as inconsistency with the political sub-system, and the conceptual sub-system.


Scholars who attended this seminar included Professor SHI Xiaomin, Mr. WU Si, Professor WU Qing, and Professor SHENG Hong.




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