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Wenshan Jia demonstrates that a true liberation of Chinese civic discourse can start with a focus on indigenous cultural practices, such as face practices--the understanding that every human face offers a distinct cultural grammar for acting, speaking, and feeling. Chinese character and identity, the author argues, are primarily functions of communication, and as such, these practices are of enormous consequence to the necessary reconstruction of Chinese identity in the changing socioeconomic context of the 21st century. In this way, Jia finds a middle ground between the advocacy of complete Westernization and radical Chinese nationalism: as a pragmatic alternative, communication is key. Never before has facework research been approached so systematically from the standpoint of its relationship to character and identity. Jia's work substantially advances the literature on Chinese communication and presents a unique perspective on its relationship to social transformation. This new paradigm of facework--including analytical methods such as Circular Questioning in addition to major case studies--challenges traditional views while pointing the way toward a new and valuable social-constructionist view.
Ablex Publishing Corporation
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