Culture, Economic Style and the Nature of the Chinese Economic System
ln recent economic research, culture has received growing attention as a determinant of institutional change and growth. East Asia and China in particular have been frequently identified as cases in point. However, most analyses operate with an essentialist notion of culture, as in the notorious case of Confucianism". This paper proposes a network approach to culture, which is defined as a perceived pattern of a set of constituent units, and which is continuously negotiated among socio-economic actors. In the context of economics, culture can be related to "economic style", which was proposed as a descriptive instrument by the elder hermeneutic and historically oriented German school after the settlement of the "Methodenstreit“. These concepts are applied to the Chinese case. In a tour d’horizon, a series of potential constituent phenomena of a “Chinese economic style" is scrutinized. I achieve a set of general descriptors, in particular localism, networks, culturalism and modernism. These descriptors transcend dualistic approaches to economic systems and allow to identify historical path dependencies and continuities across systemic ruptures.
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