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Ordinary Ethics in China

Charles Stafford
Bloomsbury (14 February 2013)

Drawing on a wide range of anthropological case studies, this book focuses on ordinary ethics in contemporary China. The book examines the kinds of moral and ethical issues that emerge (sometimes almost unnoticed) in the flow of everyday life in Chinese communities.

How are schoolchildren judged to be good or bad by their teachers and their peers - and how should a 'bad' student be dealt with? What exactly do children owe their parents, and how should this debt be repaid? Is it morally acceptable to be jealous if one's neighbours suddenly become rich? Should the wrongs of the past be forgotten, e.g. in the interests of communal harmony, or should they be dealt with now?

In the case of China, such questions have obviously been shaped by the historical contexts against which they have been posed, and by the weight of various Chinese traditions. But this book approaches them on a human scale. More specifically, it approaches them from an anthropological perspective, based on participation in the flow of everyday life during ethnographic fieldwork in Chinese communities.

  • Professor Charles Stafford is professor of anthropology at LSE.

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Ordinary Ethics in China