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Kim Ed. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. This locates language policy in complexes of ideology and webs of cultural meanings and, as such, in constellations of micro-discursive practices that are anchored in different and often conflictual ideologies, indexical and constitutive of the macro-patterns of normativity and order.
In such constellations, the state functions as but one of a range of possible centers of norms. On the other hand, the questions of harmony and language policy draw attention to China as both a comparative context to African and other contexts and an interesting case in its own right.
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Harmony and language policy go hand in hand in China. This can be seen in the prevalent slogan of Harmonious Society championed by former President Hu Jintao. Not only the formal policies of language—which advocates a monoglot standard ideology cf. Harmony, therefore, is a crucial aspect and driving force of language policy and policing in the context of China. This paper seeks an ethnographic understanding of harmony via and, thus, as language policy in China. As stated, we use ethnography in the Hymesian sense as a theoretical perspective rather than a mere method of social and linguistic inquiry.
Blommaert ; Rampton These three levels of ethnography progressively narrow the ontological gap between text and context in literacy research and discourse analysis more generally. Our use of ethnography needs to be appreciated at this third and deeper level, i. Tsui ; Yang ; MacKinnon From this perspective of the Internet, we will show empirically that although the state is arguably the strongest stakeholder in implementing the policy of harmony—or, better, harmonization—the actual processes of harmonization through policing online develop in detailed, multidirectional, and unpredictable rather than abstract, linear, or monofocal ways.
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The outcomes of such processes are, paradoxically, alternative ideologies of harmony as well as non-normative use of language. We will discuss the implications of these observations and our understanding of harmony as language policy—with reference to China and Chinese—in the final part of the paper. It is important to make clear at the onset that when we speak of harmony in a Chinese context, the use of the term conjures up a distinctive ideological load seated in over two millennia of Chinese history and Confucian traditions.
He is one of the central tenets of the Confucian system of ethical philosophy and political governmentality cf. Yao The Confucian doctrines of he are incorporated by generations of Chinese in conceptualizing norms and orders that inform individual behaviors in relation to the moral self, the family, the state, and other levels of society.
In this sense, he represents a specific set of historically enregistered and internalized discourses about what is meant by harmony, why harmony is important, and how to achieve it socially and politically. This is a crucial point for understanding the significance of harmony in terms of language policy in China today. Although today he is invariably credited to Confucianism, its genesis predates Confucius — BCE. He observes that the concept gradually evolved from its initial meaning of describing how different sounds or flavors respond to one another in ancient music and food rituals, to an aesthetical, ethical, philosophical, political, and metaphysical ideal that embraces harmony as the optimal way of constructing society and cosmos Li It is believed that Confucius was the first to synthesize earlier thoughts about harmony and placed he at the centre of his philosophy.
The previously variegated ideas were quoted and appropriated by Confucius and his followers to promote the social and political significance of harmony. What is interesting about harmony, according to Li , and others, are the distinctions and dynamics between sameness and difference it defines. He er butong harmony with distinction is a popular saying people still use today to defend their stance and settle disputes.
Interpersonal Harmony and Conflict for Chinese People: A Yin–Yang Perspective
What is inscribed in these lines is the differentiation between harmony and sameness, between valid harmony based on the acknowledgement of difference versus sameness, and invalid harmony, based on the diminishing of difference; it also states the moral-ethical categorizations of harmony for which the order of good and bad, appropriate and inappropriate, is negotiated and established. Such dynamics are crucial to the understanding of he. Not any kind of sameness leads to harmony.
Difference, on the other hand, is a precondition and cornerstone of harmony because he is essentially about the harmonious, appropriate interplays of differences.
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Hence he entails hexie harmony , heping peace and hejie reconciliation , an equilibrium that is only acceptable and appropriate through strife and the harmonization of sameness and difference—managed diversity, so to speak. Li refers not only to ceremonial rituals performed on specific occasions, it is one of the five basic virtues i. Harmony operates on five hierarchically interrelated scale-levels Li The next level of harmony is to do with the governance politics of the state. Harmonious governance is to bring about order in society through the virtuous functioning of government officials rather than penal laws.
The fourth level involves promoting harmony as peaceful coexistence beyond the state borders, in the world. And finally, at the most fundamental level, harmony is applicable as a universal law and a cosmological order generated by the interactive process of balancing human, nature, and society. The ultimate goal is to realize taihe grand harmony throughout the cosmos, which derives from harmony at the lower levels.
Harmony, thus, is a carefully constructed normative complex in Confucianism that relies on the cultivation of prescribed virtues and maintenance of morality and ethics. It provides an early model of humanist ideal of organizing life at multiple levels and achieving desired balance and order.