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Session A1
The Significance of the Taiwan Case for Social Theory
高棣民 Thomas Gold
Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, USA

The Significance of the Taiwan Case for Social Theory

Thomas B. Gold

University of California, Berkeley


            Taiwan’s experience of economic development, social change and political transformation offers a rich source of material for the contribution to theory-building and testing in many subfields of Sociology (which also overlaps with Political Science). These include (but are not limited to) social movements, nation- and state-building, symbolic interactionism (presentation of self, impression management), socialization, gender and sexuality, family, stratification and civil society, etc. This paper will first review publications that address some aspects (primarily democratization) of Taiwan from a set of English- and Chinese-language Sociology and Political Science journals and books to determine how they consciously utilize social theories either to explain aspects of Taiwan society, or to use Taiwan’s experience to test or contribute to theory.  Then I will propose application of field theory as elaborated by Pierre Bourdieu and Neil Fligstein and Doug McAdam as a way of rethinking what has happened in Taiwan. I will argue that this theory helps draw together a more comprehensive picture of how change in one field has had impacts on others, and the larger interaction between these fields and the more overarching field of power.