Chinese Think Tanks: from Practical Rationality to Social Institutional Reflection

Introduction. The article examines the formation of a network of Chinese think tanks as a special socio-political institution – a research system, not only aimed at solving the tasks set by the state, but also, due to the specifics of these tasks, exerting an ever-increasing influence on the same state is the customer. This process is been studied from the standpoint of social reflection, determined by the modern “fluid” nature of society, which is becoming in conditions of increasing socio-cultural dynamics and risk. Today think tanks, as a very popular institution in the West, are actively discussed in the scientific community in the context of their engagement and loss of expert independence. At the same time, in China, where such structures appeared later than in the United States and Europe, their influence on political and economic decision-making is recognized as consistently high. The aim of the study is to classify the leading Chinese think tanks and analyze their activities from the perspective of sociological reflection. Methodology and sources. The methodological basis of the study was the approach of reflective sociology, with the help of which was made an attempt to analyze the activities of modern analytical centers in the PRC and their focus. The empirical base was made up of publicly available data on the activities of Chinese think tanks, included in the list of the best, according to the American Go Global Think Tank Index Report, on the basis of which a study of the nature of these organizations and their topics was carried out. Results and discussion. Based on the study of the structural dynamics and research topics of Chinese think tanks, it is argued that the development of such a network since the 2000s is due to the reorientation of Chinese foreign policy from two “superpowers” to Europe and countries lying on the “new silk road” to it. There is a widespread opinion in the West that think tanks are capable of influencing political decision-making only in Western-style democratic societies. An analysis of the activities of modern think tanks in China refutes this opinion and demonstrates that it is there that ideas are discussed, which subsequently form the basis for political decision-making by the leadership of the PRC. Conclusion. Interaction with Europe, as the main foreign policy goal, has led to a social reflection of problems in the construction of comprehensive cooperation with it. Such a reflection combined with social practical rationality, led to an appeal to European rationalism with the aim of both understanding Europe and trying to establish communication with it using a discourse that it understands. The work of Chinese think tanks, whose importance in shaping China’s foreign policy is growing, is aimed at solving this problem.

Authors: Pomozova N. B.

Direction: Sociology

Keywords: Chinese analytical centers, think tanks, social rationality, social institutional reflection

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