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The 11st Jurisprudence Salon: Associate Professor Pan Weijiang and the Discussion about Super-large Scale Stranger Society Governance

  On the evening of November 3rd, 2018, the 11st jurisprudence salon of Renmin University of China (RUC) entitled "Super-large Scale Stranger Society Governance: Problems and Challenges" was successfully held in room 725 of Mingde Building. Associate professor Pan Weijiang, the vice dean of the law school of Beihang University, was invited to give a keynote speech. The salon was presided over by You Chenjun, the associate professor of RUC. Peng Xiaolong, the associate professor of RUC, and Zhang Xin, the assistant professor of the law school of University of International Business and Economics, also attended the salon.

  After expressing sincere gratitude to the invitation, starting from his own process of academic study, Prof. Pan mentioned his experience about changing from politics to jurisprudence, and then to further study Niklas Luhman,s theories, which enabled him to think about the society governance problems of China more macroscopically and deeply.
  First, Prof. Pan raised the prerequisite questions of conducting research of sociology of law in China: since both legal construction and legal research had to be based on the Chinese realistic context, what was the reality of China? What was the biggest reality? In light of the realistic problems such as globalization, uniform market, networked challenges and so on, Prof. Pan summarized the innovation and heritage during the 40-year reform and opening-up, and proposed three questions. First, what influence did the great changes happened during the 40 years bring to the legal construction of China? Second, with the aim of describing, clarifying, observing, analyzing and reflecting the impact and significance that such social change and transformation gave to the legal construction, how could we propose proper concept, proposition and method in theory? Third, how would such theory, based on the China,s reality and context, balance the relationship between referring to and surpassing the western theories?

  Then, Prof. Pan gave his theory judgement. He pointed out that the accelerating speed of the development of Chinese super-large scale stranger society had challenged the whole national governance system including law in transformation and update. Elaborating the different stages of small-scale, large-scale and super-large scale of acquaintance society and stranger society respectively, Prof. Pan asserted that these two kinds of societies were the fundamental frame of observing the transformation of law and society in contemporary China. Having given the general judgement mentioned above, Prof. Pan defined the concepts including strangers, stranger society, large-scale stranger society, super-large scale stranger society, and their opposite side, such as acquaintance, acquaintance society, which was supplemented by the relevant examples, the comparison between East and West and the extension in philosophy. After defining the concepts, he mainly summarized many characteristics of super-large scale stranger society and declared that the suepr-large scale was more than a quantitative generalization. Then, based on the theories of Luhman and other sociologists, he suggested that the judgement of scale should consist of the quantity and heterogeneity of elements and the relevance among all elements, which could reach our goal of dividing the process of society evolution into three stages according to the complexity: episodic split, hierarchical split and functional split.
  During the discussion, the attendees enthusiastically shared their ideas. The assistant professor Zhang Xin showed respect to Prof. Pan for his attempt to establish the sociology of law theory under the panoramic Chinese context, and greatly emphasized the dynamic characteristics of super-large scale stranger society. From her perspective, thanks to the development of information technology, the ability to acquire information of individuals or the government had become stronger. The society complexity had been greater, but the government,s capability to control the society was much stronger. What,s more, individuals could obtain othersí» information quickly even though they weren,t as familiar with each other as they were in the acquaintance society. The associate professor Peng Xiaolong agreed with Prof. Pan,s theory concerning the heterogeneity. In his opinion, the incompatibility of the existing methods and heterogeneity was the reason for current problems. Then, he raised three questions: First, since variable elements were likely to appear at any moment during the society transformation, whether it would disturb the original evolutionary logic of super-large scale stranger society? Second problem was about the influence which peopleí»s ideas brought to the social system. The third one was worry about the challenges resulted from the superposed social structure of super-large scale stranger society. Later, the associate professor You Chenjun pointed out that due to the excessive reliance of western theory during the past years, study about Chinese problems, when we tried to sinicize the western theory, the first difficulty we would confront was the scale difference. On the other side, on account of the lack of specificity of governing objects caused by the enhancement of popularity mobility since the reform and opening-up, which was also a troublesome problem, he cited Simmel,s classical expression about "unfamiliarity" and "distance" to describe a modern stranger society.
  After professors, discussion, students exchanged their opinions and raised many questions, and then Prof. Pan gave response to all attendees respectively. Finally, Prof. You made the summary and thanked Prof. Pan for bringing new perspectives to all.

Editor: ZHANG Jiayun

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