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Theorists and actors: Zhang Shizhao on "self-awareness" as political action

Jenco, Leigh K. (2008) Theorists and actors: Zhang Shizhao on "self-awareness" as political action. Political Theory, 36 (2). pp. 213-238. ISSN 0090-5917

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0090591707312440


This paper draws on the thought of the early twentieth century Chinese intellectual Zhang Shizhao to re-examine the foundations of effective political action. Writing during the critical historical juncture that spanned the fall of China's last imperial dynasty and the establishment of a republican government, Zhang reflects upon the possibilities for political action in contexts where the communities that might underwrite its meaning are no longer—or not yet—accessible. These reflections culminate in Zhang's vision of self-rule as an individualized process of “self-awareness.” I sketch out the model of political action his account implies to explain how he can render such individualized activity politically relevant. Contrasting with accounts of democratic action like Hanna Pitkin's that privilege “action in concert,” Zhang's self-awareness reorients the focus of political activity toward disparate—though cumulative—efforts to render shared problems incrementally and personally tractable.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2008 SAGE Publications
Divisions: Government
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2012 08:33
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2024 21:54

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