From “common” to “public” : What tools for understanding opinion in contemporary China?


This event is organized as part of the EU-funded "China Horizons" project. 

The project “Dealing with a Resurgent China” (DWARC) has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement number 101061700.
Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

Contemporary Chinese society is extremely dynamic, characterized by profound and original opinion movements. However, this dynamism is often obscured by a lack of understanding of the Chinese context, as well as by the pervasive influence of the so-called "Western model," which frequently serves as a point of reference in academic discussions on the concept of opinion. The aim of this seminar is to shed light on the formation of opinions in both Chinese and non-Chinese contexts, as well as to address the specific challenges that China presents in this regard.
The social sciences teach us that individual opinion is never isolated but is always linked to the way in which individuals participate in collectives, where they express themselves, confront some and conform to others, engage with each other, remain on their own, and so on. Therefore, the question of personal opinion appears inseparable from the whole tangle of the social world; its roots espouse the forms of the most ordinary common world (family and friends), and its branches ramify as far as the most formal public platforms of expression (social conflicts, social networks).
The seminar offers a two-fold perspective, both through the experience gained in Chinese fieldworks and through a mirrored exploration of foreign fieldworks. The speakers have carried out pioneering work that very early on focused on the value of individual expression within the collective, and on taking account of regional specificities against the backdrop of a broader comparative horizon.
Speakers :
Isabelle Thireau, EHESS-CNRS
Laurent Thévenot, EHESS
Camille Salgues, Sciences Po-CERI
Chair :
Jean-Louis Rocca,Sciences Po-CERI


Isabelle Thireau is Professor at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS-NCRS) and Research Director at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). Affiliated with the Center for Studies on Modern and Contemporary China (CECMC – CCJ), her interests include the sociology of norms, sense of justice and intermediary publics in China with fieldworks in Guangdong, Anhui, Beijing and Tianjin.
Recent publications : Isabelle Thireau, “La dimension politique des rassemblements publics en Chine”, Politix, numéro spécial La politique au coin de la rue, 125/1, 2019, pp. 161-190. 
Isabelle Thireau, Des lieux en commun. Une ethnographie des rassemblements publics en Chine contemporaine. Paris, Éditions de l’EHESS, 2021.
Isabelle Thireau, « Being Together at a distance, Talking and Avoiding talk », The China Quarterly, 246, 2021, 428-446.
Isabelle Thireau, « Deux assemblées protestantes à Tianjin. En quête de repères de la certitude », Annales. Histoire Sciences sociales, 2023/1 (78 ème année), p. 109-141.
Laurent Thévenot is Directeur d'études at EHESS (Simmel center). His most recent publications on the theme of the seminar are:
Thévenot, Laurent, Rousselet, Kathy, Daucé, Françoise (dir.), 2017, "Critiquer et agir en Russie" dossier de la Revue d'Etudes Comparatives Est-Ouest, 48(3-4), pp. 5-244.
Thévenot, L., 2017, "'Des liens du proche aux lieux du public': retour sur un programme franco-russe pionnier", Revue d'Etudes Comparatives Est-Ouest, 48(3-4) 7-43.
Luhtakallio, Eeva & Thévenot, Laurent, 2018, "Politics of Engagement in an Age of Differing Voices" European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology 5(1-2), 1-11.
Thévenot 2019, "What engages. The sociology of justifications, conventions, and engagements, meeting norms", La Revue des droits de l’homme, 16,
Thévenot 2020 "How does Politics Take Closeness into Account? Returns from Russia" International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 33 (2): 221-250.
Camille Salgues is a research associate at Ceri, Sciences Po. With Jean-Louis Rocca, he is currently working on the "Voices of China's society and culture" project within the China Horizon Project Dealing With A Resurgent China (DWARC). He is particularly interested in the opinions of Chinese migrants in Europe, especially young people and students.
Recent publications : Liu W., Salgues C. « Repenser par le bas les échanges universitaires afro-chinois », Revue internationale des études du développement, 252 | 2023.
Salgues C.,  "In the Midst of Rubble, Bordering the Wasteland: Landscapes of Ruins and Childhood Experiences in China." China Perspectives(4): 31–40.  2021
Jean-Louis Rocca, Professor at Sciences Po, researcher (CERI, Sciences po-CNRS)
Recent publications : Rocca J.L, Blecher M., David SG Goodman, Yingjie Guo and Beibei Tang, Class and the Communist Party of China 1978-2021, Routledge, 2022.
Rocca J.L, « The Malaise of the Chinese Middle Class » in Middle Class Identities and Social Crisis. Cultural and Political Perspectives on the Global Rebellion, Alejandro Grimson, Menara Guizardi and Silvina Merenson, Routledge, 2022, Chapter 10.

Scientific coordinators : Jean-Louis Rocca, Sciences Po-CERI and Camille Salgues, Sciences Po-CERI

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