Between North and South: Historicizing the Indigenization Discourse in Chinese Sociology

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This paper aims to examine the indigenization discourse in mainland China by charting its evolution in shifting historical contexts. Three phases are distinguished. In the 1980’s, the idea of indigenization or “sinicization” was promulgated by Taiwanese and American Chinese social scientists. In taking up the idea, the early indigenization discourse in mainland China embraced rather than rejected positivism and modernity. The second phase is the 1990’s to 2000’s, when remarkable efforts at indigenization were made in the theory of social change, social psychology and post‐positivist philosophy. Yet these efforts did not constitute a pointed critique of Western social science. Most recently, there is a revival of interest in the indigenization idea, as evident in a major controversy over its adequacy and relevance in the Chinese context. While the call for indigenization is gaining currency, there is a concurrent trend of coalescence with the state‐sanctioned program of building “discursive power”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-119
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Historical Sociology
Issue number1
Early online dateMar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Part of the materials for this paper come from a project “Achievement without Coherence: State‐Building, University System and the Formation of Chinese Sociology,” funded by the University Grants Committee of Hong Kong (Ref.: LU 13603017).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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