Protecting the Weak – Concepts and East Asian Evidence

7-8 Oct 2016


Mr. Matthias SCHUMANN, Goethe University Frankfurt/Main & Ph.D. Candidate, Heidelberg University

“ 'For the Sake of Morality and Civilization': Buddhist Activism and the Emerging Animal Protection Movement in Republican China”

While the history of animal protection has become a burgeoning field of research recently, studies devoted to the history of human-animal relations in China still remain few and far between. This talk will therefore look at the case of the China Society for the Protection of Animals (Zhongguo baohu dongwu hui) that was founded in 1934 to investigate some of the ideas and discourses that contributed to a rising awareness for animal protection in Republican China. During this period, Chinese activists pointed to the importance of animal protection among the “civilized” nations of the world. Cruelty to animals, on the other hand, was seen as having negative repercussions for human morality and as inducing interpersonal violence. Discussions on animal protection in both Europe and China reflected an emphasis on the human implications of animal welfare. Developing an animal protection movement would allow China to reform its population and elevate its international status. At the same time, by building on established Buddhist concepts Chinese activists argued for a specific Chinese tradition of animal protection which resulted in much stronger claims of protection. By addressing these aspects in more detail, this talk will situate the animal protection movement in Republican China within the wider international context.

Mr. Stefan HUEPPE-MOON and Ms. Elisa HOERHAGER, Ph.D. Candidates, Goethe University Frankfurt/Main

“The (In)Justice of Protection: Protecting the 'Weak' in Contemporary Political Philosophy”

Recent empirical research has shown the persistence of morally relevant and structurally determined inequalities. Progress has been made, yet inequalities are still with us and continue to challenge us today. The aim of theories of justice is to provide normative conceptions of just distributive arrangements. Theory also has the obligation to take seriously the viewpoint of the disadvantaged in order to provide convincing answers for combatting injustice in today’s societies. The aim of this paper is to identify how theories of justice deal with ‘disadvantage.’ This involves looking at the following questions: (A) Who is disadvantaged? This question entails looking at the determining characteristics of what constitutes a disadvantage and where they are located. Secondly, we ask (B) who is the principle agent responsible for addressing disadvantage? This question involves looking at different levels of responsibility, desert and participation and analyzing the mechanisms of justice. Both of these questions point to a range of possible answers, which form a continuum from the individual and the family, over communities, up to states and the global order. Our paper will draw upon various theories of justice as paradigmatic examples of different approaches to (A) the disadvantaged and (B) the agent responsible for addressing disadvantage. Illustrating the broad spectrum of possible approaches to disadvantage enables us to identify the major points of difference, problematize the dilemmas of overcoming disadvantage, and form a clearer picture of the challenges still facing political theory today.

Prof. Sealing CHENG, Department of Anthropology, Chinese University of Hong Kong

“The Loud Silence of Sexual Victimhood: The Urge to Protect in Anti-trafficking Discourses”

Both scholars and sex workers’ rights activists have critiqued the ready conflation of human trafficking with prostitution in the policy arena and media portrayal, yet the discourses of sexual victimhood continue to dominate mainstream understanding of human trafficking. This presentation juxtaposes discursive analysis with ethnographic observations to discuss assumptions about gender, class, and ethnicity in the discursive construction of “sex trafficking”. It further examines how this urge to protect is an expression of neoliberal ideas about sex and the market.

Prof. Ravinder BARN, School of Law, Royal Holloway University of London

“Rape Myth Acceptance among University Student Populations: A Case Study of India and the UK”

Research and anecdotal evidence into the crime of rape continues to suggest the persistence, and powerful impact of the existence of rape myths throughout the world. Such myths may exist at a number of different levels in society from individual beliefs to how systems perceive and respond to victims and perpetrators (Stern Report 2010, Smith & Skinner 2012). Much of the focus of extant literature has been on the criminal justice system, and support and provision for the victims (Westmorland & Gangoli 2012). Within such literature, there is evidence of the existence of rape myths which attribute blame onto the victim (Ellison and Munro 2009, Barn and Kumari 2015). So – beliefs such as ‘the majority of rape allegations are false’, or that ‘the majority of rapes are committed by strangers’ are not uncommon. Some researchers have asserted that rape myths can create cultural norms that may perpetuate sexual violence against women (Burt 1980). Research carried out in the USA suggests that men are more likely to demonstrate high levels of rape myth acceptance (Aronowitz et al 2012). In Britain and in India, we lack similar research evidence to develop nuanced understandings.

This paper draws upon a new study that sought to explore the persistence of rape mythology among university students. Through a range of mixed-methods, a total of almost 600 students contributed to the data collection for this study. An analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data help promote understandings in a range of key areas including consent, victim-blaming, help-seeking, gender equality, and social justice. These themes are discussed within the framework of gendered norms, culture and context. The paper also discusses the role of higher education institutions as sites that could help shape prevention and policy responses in challenging gender-based violence across the globe.

Dr. Diana KWOK, Department of Special Education and Counselling, The Education University of Hong Kong

“Sexual Prejudice and Sexual Diversity Training for Chinese Teachers Preliminary Themes Identified from Qualitative Interviews”

Despite the fact that Hong Kong government aims to develop an inclusive society, sexual minority students continue to encounter sexual prejudice without legal protection. Informed by the literature on sexual prejudice, heterosexual hegemony, genderism, as well as code of practice for frontline practitioners, the authors explored self-perceived knowledge of teachers and sexual minorities on sexuality and sexual prejudice, and how they perceive prejudice towards sexual minorities in Chinese cultural context.

Semi-structure qualitative interviews were carried out with 31 school personnel informants (school teachers and counseling team members) and 25 sexual minority informants on their understanding of sexuality knowledge, their perception of sexual prejudice within school context in Hong Kong, as well as their suggested themes on teachers training on sexual prejudice reduction. This presentation specifically focuses on transcripts from sexual minority informants. Data analysis was carried out through thematic analysis using NVivo. Trustworthiness of the study was addressed through various strategies.

We identified the following preliminary themes 1) A gap of knowledge between sexual minority informants and teachers; 2) Informants’ perception on sexual prejudice within cultural context; 3) Heterosexual hegemony and genderism within school system; 4) Needs for mandatory training: suggested contents and strategies. The sexual minority informants found that teachers they encountered were predominantly adopted concepts of binary sex and dichotomous gender. Informants also indicated that the teachings of Confucianism cultural values, religiosity in Hong Kong might well be important cultural forces contributing to sexual prejudice manifested in school context. Although human rights and social justice concepts were embedded in professional code of practice of teachers and school helping professionals, informants found that teachers they encountered may face a dilemma when supporting sexual minority students navigating heterosexual hegemony and genderism in schools, as a consequence of their personal, institutional, cultural and religious backgrounds. In order to combat sexual prejudice, mandated training from institutional level need to be advocated.

Prof. Sighard NECKEL, Hamburg University, and Prof. Heike HOLBIG, Goethe University, Frankfurt/M.

“Negative Classifications and the Symbolic Order of Social Inequality: Evidence from East Asia”

This paper applies a cultural sociological approach to the research on social inequality. This approach implies that we do not regard social inequality as resulting only from a distributive order of goods, income and positions, but also from an evaluative order created and reproduced by the actions of social groups. This means that, from a sociological perspective, we see “weakness” not only as the social vulnerability of actors and groups resulting from a lack of material resources, education and power, but also as an attribution and assessment which can have a variety of social consequences. “Weakness” can compel others to help the weak and defend their interests. But if the weak are to be protected and empowered, they must be identified as “weak” in the first place, and this act of identification can have paradoxical consequences. As we demonstrate with evidence from East Asia, the social designation as “weak” can have many adverse effects for the weak groups themselves, because it gives them the blame for their own weakness and publicly condemns, disparages or stigmatizes them. Based on the analysis of the situation of victims of the Fukushima disaster in Japan and of rural migrants and their offspring living in Chinese metropoles, we show how social designations of weakness can produce negative classifications that signal disrespect to weak actors and limit their opportunities for action.

Prof. Moritz BAELZ, Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main

“Categorizing Victims of Disaster”

Compensating victims of a man-made disaster, due to the mere number of claims, can pose enormous challenges to a judicial system. One policy option in order to secure fast and efficient compensation in such often-unexpected scenarios is to complement redress through tort litigation by some kind of alternative mass compensation scheme. Such schemes, on the level of substantive rules as well as on the procedural level, can take a broad variety of shapes. Most schemes, however, have in common that they more or less strongly rely on “categorizing” victims. Victims fulfilling specified conditions, at times even expressly denominated as “class A victims” or alike, are grouped together and defined as eligible for certain standardized forms of compensation. Procedures are streamlined and thus focus less on the peculiarities of the individual case than in ordinary court proceedings. Compensation often is paid as lump sums falling short of full compensation.

Referring to various compensation schemes, including Japan’s compensation practice with regard to the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011, this talk will explore the complex implications of such categorization approach. It is argued that these implications go beyond the arguably inevitable tradeoff between speed in dealing with mass claims and the depth in which the individual case can be addressed. The goal is to identify possible benefits and limitations of categorizing victims and thus to shed light on the conditions for success of alternative compensation schemes.

Prof. Takeshi FUJITANI, University of Tokyo,

“Why has the Japanese Tax System been unable to afford adequate social protection(s)?”

Despite its economic development and once-reputed “egalitarian” society, Japan in reality has been one of the least eager countries to extend adequate protections to “weak” groups/interests. Its social protection had been (and still is) disproportionately devoted to the elderly population and the less-developed provinces, or “institutionally recognized weak” so to speak, while the truly “weak” remain inadequately covered by public support. Even though the predicaments of various groups of the truly “weak” in Japanese society have been reported, Japan has constantly failed to achieve a fiscal reform so as to raise money to afford adequate social protection to them. The paper contends that these sobering phenomena are all rooted in the nature of the Japanese welfare state, characterized by a limited commitment by the government to social protection and heavy reliance on communities (especially firms and families) and people’s “self-responsibility” ethic. The law, supposedly protecting rights and interests of the weak, should have counter-balanced this trend, but mostly did not, surrendering to the logic of budgetary constraints. Such an institutional constellation of post-war Japan once boosted its economic development, but now it has become a detriment to the sustainability of the society as a whole (and probably its economic growth, too). Against this background, this paper explores these questions: How can we solve this institutional conundrum? What, in our institutional discourse, should be changed? Taking “protecting the weak” seriously actually means taking our society’s sustainability seriously, and this seems to be exactly the case with contemporary Japan, the difficulties of which hopefully will offer some lessons to other countries.

Ms. Christina MAAGS, PhD Candidate, and Dr. Ioan TRIFU, Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main

“Local Appropriation of International Norms in East Asia: The Case of Cultural Heritage”

In today’s globalized world, international norms and debates are increasingly taken up by subnational actors, eager to mobilize for protection of weak groups and interests. In the field of cultural heritage, local citizens, governments, business and cultural associations alike make use of international norms, such as UNESCO principles. In order to assess how international norms are appropriated to pursue local interests, we conduct a comparative case study of one prefecture/province in Japan and China respectively. In particular this paper will demonstrate that local actors appropriate international norms for a variety of interests. While international norms are mobilized to safeguard and promote local cultural heritage and by extent local cultural identities, these norms are also used to pursue local economic interests such as advancing the tourism and cultural industries as well as engaging in location branding.

Prof. Mark ROSENZWEIG, Yale University

"Networks, Inequality and Development."

Informal networks play many important roles in low-income societies where formal institutions and markets are under-developed. One of the most prominent networks is the caste network in India. In this lecture I will discuss and show evidence on how the internal cooperation of caste networks contribute to providing services, including risk-sharing and job-seeking, and how the networks affect the allocation of public goods in rural villages. I will also discuss how the internal cooperation is achieved, the strong role of the caste networks in redistributing incomes to the poor, and the costs of networks, most especially their restrictions on economic and spatial mobility. Finally, I will also discuss how economic development can affect and has affected the integrity and survival of such networks.

Ms. Na ZOU, PhD Candidate, Goethe University Frankfurt/Main

"Who has a higher propensity of forming networks?"

This paper focuses on migrant entrepreneurs’ social network structures by documenting systematic patterns of their business ties. Using the name generator method, I analyzed ties that are extremely helpful for entrepreneurs’ current business and its long-term development. Acknowledging the endogenous nature and self-selection in the process of network formation, I consider unobservable individual characteristics - the capability of strategic thinking, cooperativeness and negative reciprocity – elicited experimentally, as well as socio-economic and demographic characteristics. This is a preliminary report on a pilot study administered in a Chinese metropolis. Survey and experimental data were collected among Chinese rural-to-urban migrant entrepreneurs.

Dr. Markus HECKEL and Prof. Cornelia STORZ, Goethe University Frankfurt/Main

“Adaptive Strategies of Lay-offs”

Compared to US firms, Japanese firms are less likely to downsize, and layoffs affect a smaller fraction of their workforce as the Japanese labor market is more strongly protected. However, Japanese firms implemented a number of adaptive lay-off strategies which are generally considered as being socially more accepted. These include early and voluntary retirement, transfer to subsidiaries or affiliated organizations (shukkô/tenseki), hiring freeze (also rescinding employment offers), lay-off of non-regular employees and wage-cuts. We expect these strategies to be linked to different performance outcomes. Based on a data base currently being developed, we present preliminary results.

Prof. Nick ZUBANOV, Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, Prof. Guido FRIEGEL, Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, Prof. Matthias HEINZ, University Cologne

“How Corporate Restructuring Affects Workplace Performance: Evidence from a Retail Chain”

Using data from a German firm that restructured by selling or closing 57 out of 193 shops in its retail network, we estimate the effects of the sale and closure announcements on the performance of the affected shops. These effects are identified from a plausibly exogenous variation in the timing of making the announcements. We find that the announcement of a shop being sold to a new owner reduces sales by 6%. The shop closure announcement causes a 21% drop in sales. The negative effect of the sale announcement is exacerbated by employee affective commitment and perceived job security, while that of the closure announcement is stronger in shops with a higher share of workers on a permanent contract. Our findings are consistent with theoretical predictions on the role of psychological contract breach in shaping the performance response to downsizing, and highlight the trade-off between restructuring through sale and through closure.

Prof. Ka Ho MOK and Dr. Zhuoyi WEN, Lingnan University

"Employability and Mobility in the Valorization of Higher Education Qualifications: The Experiences and Reflections of Chinese Students and Graduates”

In the last two decades, we have witnessed a rapid expansion of higher education in Mainland China and Taiwan, recording a significant increase in higher education enrolments in these two Chinese societies. The massification of higher education in China and Taiwan has inevitably resulted in an oversupply of university graduates, with growing social concerns for skills mismatches being found in the labour market, stagnant graduate employment and social mobility. This article critically examines how university students and graduates in these two Chinese societies reflect upon their employment experiences. Human capital theory predicts that other things being equal, raising participation in higher education will initially increase inequality as rates of return rise, and then it will reduce inequality as expansion reaches mass levels and rates of return decline. If the output of graduates outpaces the demand for their skills, which appears to be the current case in many countries, then supply and demand pressures reduce the pay premium for degrees and lower income inequalities. However, this study clearly demonstrates that the massification and the universalisation of higher education in Mainland China and Taiwan, respectively, has actually intensified inequality.

Dr. Jin JIANG, Lingnan University, Prof. Tony TAM, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

“Rising Urban-rural Inequality in College Attendance in China: State Policy Bias and Structural Exclusion”

Despite the massive expansion of higher education in China since 1998, the trends of inequality of urban and rural hukou holders in college attendance have widened sharply. Prevailing explanations emphasize the advantages of urban students over rural students in school quality and household financial resources. We propose the structural exclusion hypothesis that underscores the unintended consequences of a state policy: the urban concentrated expansion of vocational upper secondary education. This policy makes the expanding opportunity inaccessible for most rural students but helps lower-achieving urban students remain in the "pipeline" for college. We conduct a crucial test of these explanations by linking provincial-level enrollment statistics with individual-level models of the urban-rural trends in college attendance. Our findings suggest that the rising urban advantage originates from the virtually exclusive increase in opportunities for vocational education among urban students. As vocational education is mainly an option for lower-achieving students, the expansion of vocational education most benefits lower-achieving urban students. The widening differences between urban and rural hukou in college attendance therefore reflects the advantage given "marginal" urban students in access to vocational schools.

Dr. Maggie LAU, City University of Hong Kong

“Protecting the Weak: Alleviation of Child Poverty and Promotion of Child Well-being in Hong Kong”

This paper aims to explore the extent to which children’s subjective well-being by socio-demographics and social relationships in Hong Kong. The analysis is based on the main findings from the first wave of the Strategic Public Policy Research (SPPR) project – ‘Trends and Implications of Poverty and Social Disadvantages in Hong Kong: A Multi-disciplinary and Longitudinal Study’. The study found that child deprivation explained more of the variation in child overall life satisfaction and subjective well-being than traditional adult-reported income poverty. Further analyses showed social relationships explained a much larger amount of variation in children’s subjective well-being compared to their socio-demographic characteristics. Children’s perceived positive relationships with family, friends and teachers, perceived social support from family and teachers, experience of being bullied, and feeling of safety at home and at school were associated with their subjective well-being. Implications of these findings for policy and practice, and priorities for future research were discussed.

Prof. Junji XIAO, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

“The Chinese Auto Dealer Size Distribution”

This paper proposes a competition theory to explain the distribution of dealer size in the Chinese auto industry. Our theory is modelled by a two-stage game, in which two types of manufacturers determine promotional services in the first stage and then determine the optimal prices in the second stage, assuming that the manufacturers are heterogeneous in product qualities and costs. Our theoretical model predicts that the optimal promotional service is larger, while the optimal dealer number is lower, for high-quality manufacturers than that for low-quality brands, implying that the capital requirement of high-quality manufacturer on its dealer will be higher and the dealers’ capital size distribution concentrates on the low end. We apply an empirical model to test this theory and our findings support the theoretical analysis.

Prof. Ping LIN, Lingnan University

“Treatment of the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises under Hong Kong’s Competition Ordinance”

Competition policy aims to protect market competition and safeguard consumer welfare. Yet promoting the competitive process may sometime contradict with the social goal of protecting SMEs. This presentation will review the public policy debates in Hong Kong before its Competition Ordinance was promulgated in 2012, particularly with regard to the treatment of SMEs, which shaped the provisions of the Ordinance. The presentation will highlight the channels via which competition policy can benefit SMEs. Lastly, the presentation will provide an evaluation of the economics side of Hong Kong’s Competition Ordinance and its relevant enforcement guidelines, in comparison with the international standard.

Mr. Julius WEITZDOERFER, PhD Candidate, Max-Planck-Institute for Comparative and Private International Law, Hamburg;University of Cambridge

"Nuclear Energy and Competition Policy in the EU and Japan"

While the European Union already features one of the world’s strictest regimes of competition law and a quickly developing common energy market, Japan eyes a liberalization of its regional monopolies and state-regulated energy prices in the coming years. This presentation will compare the roles anti-monopoly and anti-state-aid law and policy play in both energy markets, respectively. A focus will be laid on controversial pending cases of direct and indirect subsidies for new nuclear power plants in the UK and Hungary, as well as the crippled Fukushima Dai’ichi power station. Reducing state-aid for nuclear power not only involves the protection of “weak” market players and sources of energy, such as renewables, but is interesting in light of the expansion of nuclear energy in China and China’s new role as an exporter of nuclear technology to the European Union and other markets where it competes with Japan.

Dr. Swethaa S. BALLAKRISHNEN, Post Doctoral Associate, Division of Social Sciences, NYU Abu Dhabi

"Doing Gender Differently: Indian Professional Firms As Unlikely Petri Dishes for Gender Equality"

Using the case of elite Indian professionals, this article offers a contrast to the robust literature suggesting collinearity between gender essentialism and inequality in organizational settings. Analyzing 139 interviews with professionals in India’s elite litigation, transactional law and consulting firms, I find that while gendered meanings and hierarchies certainly do infiltrate all workspaces, not all trajectories for Indian women in high status work are prematurely disadvantaged. Particularly, my research reveals that while most female professionals were dismissed or overlooked for not exhibiting male-type traits; for elite transactional lawyers it was the reverse. This unlikely positive valorization of female type traits – “nouveau” essentialism – reveals how in some new contexts, gendered assumptions about work can further rather than inhibit egalitarian outcomes.

Ms. Diana DAKHLALLAH, PhD Candidate, Stanford University

"Can reputational incentives reduce corruption?"

In 2009, half of Moroccans who visited public hospitals reported making at least one under-the-table payment in exchange for care. This type of corrupt interaction–in which public service provision is conditional on unsanctioned monetary or benefits-in-kind transfers by citizens to service providers–is commonplace in public sector domains across many countries. It is performed secretively and strategically, thus making eradication difficult. One untapped solution to corruption leverages ideas of reputation management: people care about their reputation. A reputation is a social valuation of an individual based on past interactions with others. This project evaluates how reputation-based information about corrupt behavior of service providers triggers behavior change in them leading to: (1) reduction in corruption and (2) change in the way corrupt solicitations between providers and citizens are structured. To evaluate effects of reputational incentives on corruption a quasi-experimental study is implemented in public hospitals across Morocco.

Dr. Yen-Sheng CHIANG, Assistant Professor of Sociology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

"Good Samaritans in Networks: An Experiment on How Networks Influence Egalitarian Sharing and the Evolution of Inequality"

The fact that the more resourceful people are sharing with the poor to mitigate inequality—egalitarian sharing—is well documented in the behavioral science research. How inequality evolves as a result of egalitarian sharing is determined by the structure of “who gives whom”. While most prior experimental research investigates allocation of resources in dyads and groups, the paper extends the research of egalitarian sharing to networks for a more generalized structure of social interaction. An agent-based model is proposed to predict how actors, linked in networks, share their incomes with neighbors. A laboratory experiment with human subjects further shows that income distributions evolve to different states in different network topologies. Inequality is significantly reduced in networks where the very rich and the very poor are connected so that income discrepancy is salient enough to motivate the rich to share their incomes with the poor. The study suggests that social networks make a difference in how egalitarian sharing influences the evolution of inequality.