Max Weber and China:Culture, Law and Capitalism


Max Weber and China:
Culture, Law and Capitalism

Date: 5-6 September 2013 (Thurs and Fri)
Time: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Venue: Khalili Lecture Theatre, College Buildings, Russell Square, SOAS

The conference official website:

Call for Papers

Max Weber is not only celebrated as a founder of modern social science but also for his view that modern capitalism was the achievement of a uniquely Western rationalism. His celebrated study of China argued that its legal institutions and ethical and religious culture had prevented a similar development there. But he also drew on his knowledge of China in developing his ideas of bureaucracy, authority and legitimacy.

The economic success of China over the last 30 years represents for some the biggest challenge yet to Weber’s account of its culture, to his theory of capitalism and to the methods he employed in arriving at his account. But it also brings into question the self-image of the West and the idea of modernity. The conference we are announcing will bring scholars from the social sciences and humanities together in a West/East dialogue central both to mutual understanding between China and the West, but also to an exploration of the possible varieties of capitalism.

Please note:

  • The conference will have panels and parallel streams on culture, law and capitalism, but contributions to a general stream will also be welcome.
  • Your paper can be empirical or theoretical and have a methodological, historical, contemporary or comparative focus.
  • The language of the conference will be English. Abstracts may submitted in any other language, but must always be accompanied by an English translation.

Provisional Programme

DAY 1 (5th Sep, Thur)


9:30-45:00 OPENING REMARKS: Paul Webley, SOAS Director
9:45-10:45 Keynote – First Max Weber Studies Annual Lecture: Wolfgang Schluchter (Heidelberg, Germany)
10:45-11:00 Coffee/Tea
11:00-12:00 Joint Plenary: Athar Hussain (LSE, UK); Sam Whimster (Max Weber Studies)
12:00-13:00 Streams
1:00-2:00 Lunch
2:00-3:15 Keynote: Guoxun Su (CASS and HEU, China)
3:15-3:30 Tea/Coffee
3.30-4:30Joint Plenary:Bryna Goodman (Oregon; Harvard; USA) Jack Barbalet (HK Baptist)
4:30-6:00 Streams:
6:00-7:00 Reception

Day 2 (6th Sep, Fri)

9:00-10:30 Streams
10:30-10:45 Coffee/Tea
10:45-11:45 Keynote: Stephen Kalberg (Boston, USA)
11:45-12:45 Joint Plenary:
Judith Farquhar (Chicago, USA) and Lili Lai (Peking University, China)
Martin Albrow (Bonn, Germany; BSA, UK) and Xiaoying Zhang (Beijing Foreign Studies University)

12:45-2:00 Lunch
2:00-3:00 Keynote: Gary Hamilton (Washington, USA)
3:00-4:30 Streams
4:30-4:45 Tea/COFFEE BREAK
4:45-6:00 The conference will close with a discussion of the future of capitalism by an invited panel of distinguished speakers:



Opening address:

Keynote speakers:

  • Professor Gary Hamilton, Associate Director, The Jackson School of International Studies, Professor of International Studies and Sociology University of Washington, USA
  • Professor Stephen Kalberg, University of Boston; Affiliate of the Center for European Studies, Harvard University, USA
  • Professor Wolfgang Schluchter, Emeritus Professor of Max Weber Institute for Sociology; Co-Director of Centre for Advanced Study to Promote Interdisciplinary Dialogue and Research (Marsilius Kolleg); University of Heidelberg, Germany
  • Professor Guoxun Su, Emeritus Professor of Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (SASS), Department of Sociology, Harbin Engineering University,China

Plenary speakers:

  • Professor Martin Albrow, Honorary Vice-President, British Sociological Association (BSA), UK; Fellow of Centre for Advanced Study, University of Bonn, Germany
  • Professor Jack Barbalet,  Professor of Sociology & Head of the Sociology Department, Hong Kong Baptist University
  • Professor Judith Farquhar, Max Palevsky Professor of Anthropology and Social Sciences; Chair of the Department of Anthropology, the University of Chicago, USA
  • Professor Bryna Goodman, Professor History and Director of Asian Studies, University of Oregon; Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, USA
  • Professor Athar Hussain, Director of Asia Research Centre, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), UK
  • Professor Sam Whimster, Editor of the Max Weber Studies; Head of Culture and Modernisation Programme, the Global Policy Institute, London Metropolitan University; UK

Closing  plenary panel: the future of capitalism

  • Professor Stephen Chan, OBE, Editor of The Morality of China in Africa: The Middle Kingdom and the Dark Continent (this unique collection of essays gathers together for the first time both African and Chinese perspectives on China’s place in Africa). Dean of Law and Social Sciences; Chair in International Relations, SOAS, University of London, UK
  • Professor Scott Lash, Professor of Sociology and Director of Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London.
  • Professor Ann Lee, Author of the book What the U.S. Can Learn from China (the Gold winner of the 2013 Independent Publishers Awards in the current affairs category); adjunct professor in Finance and Economics at New York University; and columnist for China Newsweek, USA
  • Professor Martin Jacques, the author of the global best-seller When China Rules the World: the End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order (2009, 2012). He is a visiting senior research fellow at IDEAS, the London School of Economics; a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, China.

Note: the list of speakers will be updated


Programme Committee

  • Professor Martin Albrow, Chair (Honorary Vice-President, British Sociological Association (BSA); Fellow of Centre for Advanced Study, University of Bonn)
  • Dr Hong Bo (Senior Lecturer in Financial Economics Department of Financial &
    Management Studies SOAS, University of London)
  • Professor John Breuilly (Chair in Nationalism and Ethnicity, Department of Government, LSE)
  • Mr Ernest Caldwell, Co-Chair (Lecturer in Chinese Law, SOAS)
  • Dr Xiangqun Chang, Co-Chair (Co-Director of CCPN Global; Research Associate of CCS, SOAS)
  • Dr Kent Deng, (Reader in Economic History; LSE)
  • Dr Carlos Frade, (Chair of Weber Study Group, BSA; Senior Lecturer In Sociology, University of Salford)
  • Dr Athena Leoussi, Co-Chair (Co-Director of European Studies, University of Reading)
  • Professor  Julia Strauss, (Professor of Chinese Politics, Department of Politics and International Studies, SOAS)
  • Professor Sam Whimster, (Editor, Max Weber Studies; Head of Culture and Modernisation Programme, the Global Policy Institute, London Metropolitan University)

Paper submission

We recommend you to use our online submission form. The benefits are:

  • it is much easier to use
  • you can receive instant response
  • it can save our efforts for data entry


  • get ready with your details and abstract (250 words) before clicking the link to complete it
  • make sure to answer ALL the questions; leave ‘N/A’ or ‘None’ for questions that are irrelevant to your case as this will save time enabling the form go through smoothly
  • double check your email address is correct when completing the form so that an identical copy of your complete form will be sent to your email box
  • look at the screen – once you have submitted your form successfully you will receive an automatic acknowledgement on the screen

Or if you prefer to download the PDF form and complete it off-line you can then send it to: You will receive an acknowledgement within 48 hours, and you will also receive a copy of your completed form automatically when it has been transferred to our database.

Privacy Policy: your personal information will remain confidential to us and will be used only for the purposes of this conference.

Deadline for submission: 15 June 2013 (extended)

We anticipate sending our comments and notifications as soon as we can after receiving your submissions when they have been evaluated by members of our Programme Committee.

Deadline for notification of acceptance: 30 June 2013 (extended)


Conference fees including lunches and tea/coffee breaks for two days, excluding accommodation and dinner

  • Early registration (before 30 June 2013): £40 standard; £20 students
  • Late registration (after 30 June 2013): £50 standard; £30 students

Please visit SOAS online store for online registration form  or via its conference page

* all the material is provided by the organisers.

During the process of organizing the ‘Weber and China’ conference, two renowned Chinese social theorists, one each from Taiwan and mainland China, sadly passed away respectively on the 21st and 24th January 2013. They are Professor Duan Lin and Professor Zhenglai Deng. Their untimely death affected our conference to some degree. It is a heavy loss to the cause of the globalization of Chinese social sciences and humanities. We however believe that Chinese scholars at home and abroad will be able to continue carrying on the so-called ‘academic fates’ (Weber, 1918), or ‘intellectual incense’ (Chinese scholars’ phrase).

In order to commemorate Deng Zhenglai and Duan Lin, the two Chinese social theorists, we have updated the ‘Fudan-IAS’ page on CCPN’s website, and published Dr Xiangqun Chang’s article (in Chinese) PDFWord 2010 version;   Word 2003 version .  – do you not want to put the name of your article?


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