“Oriental Society” in the Construction of the Modern Concept of the Citizen

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.3, 2018


“Oriental Society” in the Construction of the Modern Concept of the Citizen



Guo Zhonghua



In contemporary political practice and theory, the wide diffusion of the concept of “citizen” and the general establishment of citizen status have laid down and adumbrated the basic relational dimension of modern politics, providing an important explanatory dimension for understanding and examining the relationship between the state and society. As generally understood, the emergence and development of the concept of citizen are seen as a uniquely European product; but a phylogenic perspective shows that the positive orientalism represented by Voltaire and the negative orientalism represented by Weber reach the same end by different paths, despite the variations in their description of oriental society: Both highlight the value of rationality and humanism for the contemporary age and bestow on the ideal citizen such qualifies as freedom and justice. Retracing the two orientalist modes of constructing the “citizen” can not only clarify the intellectual distortions arising from endogeneity, but also reveal the power relations behind the construction of the citizen and stimulate the rational development of this constantly evolving concept. The era of globalization is seeing the realization of oriental society’s potential for the future construction of the “citizen” concept.