I am writing for my doctoral thesis on urban change and media in China. I want to highlight the need for a theoretical reorientation that can overcome Western dichotomies of individual/society object/subject etc. In my research I want to show that many (though not all) approaches to the study of contemporary China lead to contradictory conclusions from prevailing theories of a neo-Marxist or New Institutionalism persuasion.
In reminiscence of the words of Tambiah ‘there is a world of difference between establishing a one-to-one correspondence between a concept or practice in another culture and one in our own, and mapping a phenomenon in another culture onto one of our own’[123: 1990]. This leads to the question of comparability and commensurability. What interests me here specifically is the diffusion of technologies (that inherently hold a social force) and how those technologies that are utilised under different sociocultural systems from the originating system. So I hope to stretch our understanding to accommodate China and Chinese media rather than stretching China to accommodate our theoretical underpinnings. Please get in touch if you see some relevance here to your own research.