Temporality and Social Change: The Case of 19th Century China and Japan


Robert Lauer, “Temporality and Social Change: The Case of 19th Century China and JapanThe Sociological Quarterly, Volume 14, Issue 4 (1973): 451-464

Abstract: Manifold factors have been identified as causal mechanisms in social change, but an important one–temporality–has been neglected. Temporality is the social time that characterizes any society, and that social time is consequential for the rate and direction of change. The three dimensions of temporality are temporal pattern, temporal orientation, and temporal perspective. The differences between the Japanese and Chinese along these three dimensions help explain their differential responses to the 19th century Western challenge. Specifically, two propositions are examined in the light of the historical data: a society’s temporality limits the range of adaptive responses to new circumstances, and the symbols of social time act as a mechanism of social control.

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