Discourse as communicative action: Validation of China’s new socio-cultural paradigm Qiye wenhua ‘enterprise culture’

Song Mei Lee-Wong

Abstract

Qiye wenhua/’enterprise culture’ has emerged as a new paradigm in China’s economic reforms. Hailed as China’s new ‘culture’ it featured in an interview with certain executives of non-state owned enterprises. In the examination of this discourse, the concept of ‘communicative action’ (Habermas, 1998) is adopted as an analytical tool. The main contention in this exploratory examination is that there is speaker intent to justify China’s model of socialist market economy. This justification is mainly reflected in the semantic content of the discourse, which stresses what is ‘unique’ and ‘characteristic’ in China’s economic reforms. The rationale for this contention rests primarily on the argument that given the context of skepticism and criticisms leveled at the Chinese model, and the fact that the speakers themselves are key players in the new market economy, it would be likely that in a public discourse of this nature there would be grounds for attempts at legitimizing the Chinese economic model.

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