Confidence, Social Linkages, Power, Inequalities and Fear in a World in Rapid Transformation – a Brazil-China Dialogue

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Tom DWYER, University of Campinas, Brazil

The historical forces surrounding economic development in both China and Brazil are placed in context especially with reference to the theorizations of Sun Liping. We conducted a large survey of university students in both countries, the data revealed that the family is the most trusted institution in both countries. However, the literature teaches us that in spite of apparent similarities (DaMata) the family fulfills quite different roles in the West and in China (Fei Xiaotong). The operation of the political system is surrounded by a certain degree of skepticism in both countries, yet far higher levels of political participation are found in China than in Brazil, and far less confidence in political institutions exists in Brazil than in China. While definitions of corruption are difficult to apply in a cross-cultural context, there seems to be agreement that overly-close relations between the State and certain sectors of the market produce particular types of elites and high inequalities (Lazzarini, McGregor, Yasheng Huang). Our survey data shows that inequalities are condemned more severely by Chinese than by Brazilian students, and that corruption is seen as a greater problem among Brazilian students. Some political science literature suggests that youth has an important role to play in relation to political stability, and evidence drawn from these two countries suggests that educated youth, when faced with adversity, may not remain quiet for long. Since the beginning of the 1990s the rise of a post-industrial society has been associated with the rapid expansion of the higher education systems in both countries. While expansion of opportunities has accompanied strong economic growth in these two countries over recent years – our data showed unexpected commonly-held fears of the future among Chinese and Brazilians. Consequences for theory in the sociology of youth are then drawn.