Conference: “Max Weber and China: Culture, Law and Capitalism”

5th – 6th Sep 2013
Deadline: 3rd Sep 2013

SOAS, University of London, UK
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 thirty 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 and also to an exploration of the possible varieties of capitalism.

Provisional Programme

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 (Department of Sociology, Harbin Institute of Technology; Emeritus Professor of Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (SASS), China)


Other 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 (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 (the 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 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)



Registration is required of all participants. Online registration will close at noon, 3 September 2013.

Registration fee includes attendance at the conference, tea/coffee/water breaks and light lunch. Conference packs will include final programme, name badge and SOAS bag.  

  •     Standard Price: £50
  •     Student Price: £30

*Students must show a valid student ID card on the day.

Online Registration

Cancellation and refund policy

Cancellations must be reported in writing to the Conference Manager.  Cancellations must be received by 22 August 2013 in which case registration fees will be refunded, less a £10 processing fee.  No refund will be given to cancellations received after 22 August 2013.

Further details:


  •     The Centre of Chinese Studies, SOAS, University of London
  •     Weber Study Group, the British Sociological Association (BSA)
  •     Journal of Max Weber Studies
  •     CCPN Global (A Global Network for the Study of China and Chinese in Comparative Perspective)





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