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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sun Liping, "Toward a Sociology of Practice"

from David

So I finished a first draft of Sun Liping's article.  What I decided to do for the purposes of the project is to make available a warts-and-all version of the translation, including Chinese text, my own questions, etc., in Word form, so that other team members can make revisions, etc.  That version is here.  At the same time, for purposes of readability and eventual judgement of the utility of the piece to broader project goals, I also produced a second, moderately clean version in PDF.  That version is here.

My own reflections after spending 10-12 hours on the piece.  It is interesting, but I doubt its utility to the broader project (or at least to the documentary).  Sun is too theoretical here, which means that I am not sure I always understood him; his Chinese is clear--this is an interview after all--but I don't read widely in sociological theory and thus might have missed some nuance.  He mentions case studies that might be more appropriate for our project, although these would have been done prior to the publication of this interview in 2003 and thus are starting to get a bit dated.  The part of the interview dealing with market transition strikes me as quite dated.

If Sun is a prominent public intellectual, I'm not sure this piece demonstrates those qualities.  It's a bit too "inside baseball."

Having translated this piece, I have no idea where Sun fits on our schema of liberals, new Confucians and new authoritarians.

I also noticed while getting this done that the Chinese version of Google scholar does a citation count.  In other words, you can type Sun Liping or any other Chinese author into Chinese google scholar, and their articles and books come out in rank order decided by citation count.  This is surely at least a weak measure of the impact the piece had.  That said, the numbers are low, which probably means that not many Chinese scholars are using Google scholar.

I also discovered that Google translate is MUCH more useful for this kind of text than it is for the stuff I usually read.  Makes sense that whoever put it together would have started from modern China and maybe worked backward, rather than from religious scriptures and diaries of old gurus.

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