How has Confucianism Influenced Economic Growth in East Asia

Topics: Sociology, Confucianism, Economic development Pages: 6 (1710 words) Published: October 6, 2013


How has Confucianism influenced modern economic development in East Asia?

The rise of Asia’s so called “Tiger” economies followed by China, has given rise to the spectrum of a distinctly East Asian economic development model. The pioneering economic success of in particular, Singapore, South Korea and Japan since the 1970’s has highlighted the need to evaluate and distinguish how such economies achieved such successive growth. A variety of possible factors can explain or highlight possibilities for the successive development of East Asia. A particularly unique factor that has to be taken into account is Confucianism. The interplay between culture and development can help explain how in particular Japan and South Korea, which were relatively closed societies, have risen to attain the status of newly industrialized countries. This essay will investigate and evaluate, through the presentation of arguments and examples, the extent to which Confucianism has influenced modern economic development in East Asia. This will be achieved by firstly providing a working definition of Confucianism; then locating its positive impact within a broader debate concerning a distinctly Asian development model; investigating and analyzing the challenges presented by Confucianism in the economic development of East Asia; evaluating both the negative and positive implications of Confucianism in East Asian economies and finally assessing to what extent Confucianism has played a role in the development of East Asia’s economies.

Confucianism attained its name from Confucius, who was a scholar, in Eastern China (551-479 BCE) . Confucianism is a system of ethical and philosophical teachings introduced by Confucius and further developed by in particular Mencius (372-289BCE), who was a pupil of Confucius teachings. Traditional Confucianism according to shares a set of basic convictions, which can be understood as: Humans are born with the capacity to develop morality; this moral development begins with self-cultivation, that is, to reflect internally with the purpose of improving ones morality; the improvement of ones moral development contributes to the project of perfecting the world by achieving a harmonious society. These basic convictions are reiterated by who wrote that Confucianism can be summarized as a “cross between religion, a way of life, a system if belief about society, and a state ideology”. Argues that Confucianism focuses on filial piety, that is, respecting and adhering ones elders, the maintenance of authority through social order and the maintenance hierarchy for the purpose of perfecting social harmony. Confucianism rose and blossomed during the eleventh and twelfth centuries as Zhu Xi, a Song Dynasty Confucian scholar, revitalized the philosophy by providing a new synthesis that now predominates modern attitudes to Confucianism . Zhu Xi’s neo-Confucianism develops the notion that the natural world and human society exist in unity and are governed by the same moral principles and thus existing traditional social norms and institutions are seen as part of the natural order of the world . The orthodox nature of Confucianism, both new and old, evidently advocates to the maintenance and continuation of filial piety and of traditional ceremonies and practices, which contradicts the transformation of East Asia both culturally and economically.

The continual growth of East Asia, in particular that of China, in recent times in comparison to the rest of the world highlights a necessity to identify how Confucianism has influenced the economic models within the region. Argues that Confucianism has influenced East Asia’s economic development because of its strong ties to hierarchical structures and the belief that loyalty and effort will be rewarded from the top-down. Japanese workplace culture in particular adheres to these doctrines, as prominent feature of Japanese workplace culture is lifetime employment and managerial...

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