I was cheering, jumping up and down with joy, when I read the first few chapters of Martin’s Jacques’ book! The start of this book is a very in-your-face observation of reality that he calls contested modernities. In short, it he tells the reader that there is a huge MODERN thing heading your way, and it is called Chinese culture–get used to it. I have been saying this for years that China is a train coming toward the West and everyone is looking the wrong way. When I tell this to people back in the West, they get offended and hold on to the idea that Western values are still the pinical of culture and Chinese are all becoming Western, moving towards the West–the dreaded world is flat idea.
Jacques has some great observational skill that aligns well with my decades of experience. There is a lot here for overall understanding of cultural assumptions and what Chinese modernity means. The analysis is more sociological and Marxist in nature, but rings true. For researchers at all interested in Greater China, this book is important because it shows exactly why all assumptions need to be thrown away. Chinese culture brings it own modernity, and that is not related to the West, no matter how many Starbucks you see in Shanghai.