Between the West and the World: Historical Perspectives on the Place of Sociology in Asia

Stephane DUFOIX, Hon Fai CHEN

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

1 Citation (Scopus)


Is there Sociology to be found in Asia? Unlike Western and Eastern Europe, North America and Latin America, the Asian continent is usually overlooked when it comes to describing the world panorama of sociology. Instead it is treated in the same way as regions mostly concerned with colonialism, such as the Arab world, or Africa south of the Sahara. In this respect, it appears the colonialism of sociology is not entirely over (Steinmetz, 2013). Although the first edition of Barnes and Becker’s Social Thought from Lore to Science (1938) devoted its last and 29th chapter (which is no less than 39 pages long!) to “Sociology in India, China, and Japan”, only eight years later Georges Gurvitch and Wilbert Moore (1946) failed to pay any attention to Asian sociology, discussing non-Western sociology with regards only to Latin America and Eastern Europe. In 1961, in the third edition of their book,Barnes and Becker note at the very end of their chapter on India, China, and Japan that “only in Japan have there been notable recent advances in sociology. India has proceeded slowly, and China moved backward” (Barnes &Becker, 1961, p. 1174). Thus, on the whole, Asia is not regarded as having contributed to the discipline of sociology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-12
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Historical Sociology
Issue number1
Early online date31 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank the Department of Sociology and Social Policy, Lingnan University, Hong Kong for organizing and hosting the conference. We are grateful for the insightful comments by anonymous reviewers on the papers too.


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