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f_0016627_14369 - Social Cohesion in China: Lessons from...

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The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations Social Cohesion in China: Lessons from the Latin American Experience by Mariano Turzi C hina’s economic development over the last three decades has been dazzling critics and supporters alike. Since the launching of the “Four Modernizations” reform process in 1978, growth has averaged 9 percent annually. 1 As a result, according to IMF data released in July 2007, China is poised to overtake Germany as the world's third-largest economy. As growth has slowed in Europe, Japan, and the US the Chinese economy grew at a staggering rate of 11.9 percent in the second quarter of 2007. 2 The IMF report also pointed out that if exchange rates are adjusted to equalize the cost of goods in different countries (purchasing-power parity) China is already the world's second-largest economy. This paper contends that major transformations in the economic landscape have a direct effect on the social fabric of societies by disrupting traditional identities and frames of reference. These rapid economic changes are associated with an increasing rift in the division of labor that generates a state of confusion in regard to norms and increasing impersonality in social life. This condition is further exacerbated by the dislocation between the standards or values and the new reality, leading to what is known as anomie . As defined by Durkheim, anomie occurs when the rules on how people ought to behave break down and nobody knows what to expect from one another. 3 The state of anomie is symptomatic of a social fracture or growing lack of social cohesion. If social dislocation continues to worsen, it can discontinue growth and jeopardize development. What characteristics of this process have been adopted in the Chinese case? What consequences can it have on future growth? Due to the level of integration with the world economy, the Chinese case becomes especially important; a slowdown in the rates of growth in China would not only send shockwaves that would rattle the entire international economic system, but would also create an immense domestic governance challenge. In Latin America, social cohesion has been fractured time and time again. Development has often adopted exclusionary patterns that lead to shorter, smaller, and much more volatile cycles of growth. Even during the periods of growth, the Mariano Turzi is a Ph.D. candidate at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University 129
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TURZI The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations “inequality trap” of income inequality and social exclusion has rendered the region the most unequal in the world. 4
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f_0016627_14369 - Social Cohesion in China: Lessons from...

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