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Reviews 495 Robert M. Marsh. The Great Transformation: Social Change in Taipei: Taiwan since the 1960s. Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1996. vii, 409 pp. Hardcover $62.95, jsbn 1-56324-787-9. Paperback $27.95, 1SBN 1-56324-788-7. By replicating in 1991 a survey he had previously conducted in 1963, Robert Marsh has made a major contribution to our understanding ofboth social change in Taipei City and the strengths and weaknesses ofsome current social theories when tested against the surprises of East Asian development. Marsh formulates an eclectic "neomodernization" approach to overcome criticisms ofa "traditionalto -modern" model in which market industrialism leads to democracy and thence to global cultural convergence. From his important longitudinal study, Marsh concludes that "convergence among modernized societies is neither inevitable nor impossible" (p. 5). Yet the book focuses more on, and reveals much more of, social than political transformation. Using repeated cross-sectional design, first 507 (1963) and then 545 (1991) cases were drawn from Taipei household registers, and their middle-aged male household heads were interviewed by assistants fluent in the relevant local languages . The substantial interview schedules provided information on a broad range oftopics, mostly clustering under four heads: economic/technical; industrial /occupational; family/kinship; and stratification/mobility. Predictably, the first two relatively unambiguous topics proved less problematic in analysis than the second two. While Taiwan's economic expansion in the intervening decades has brought increased complexity to the spectrum ofproductive activities and significant absolute change in people's occupations, industrial/technical change has not greatly altered the relative relationships of the population. Marxist class, Weberian stratification, and Panglossian social mobility are all considered, as are the difficulties ofresolving the different outcomes ofrelationship-to-means-ofproduction versus prestige-hierarchy assessments. The comparison between 1963 and 1991 shows high and increasing intergenerational occupational mobility; intragenerational mobility was high, but not increasingly so, over these decades. In both samples, "more than two times as many men moved out of their fathers' occupations than can be explained by changes in occupational structure" (p. 179). Clerical/white collar workers came to occupy a greater proportion ofall jobs as both the manual proletariat and small-business ownership declined.© 1997 by UniversityMarsh's attempts to harmonize contradictions from differentkinds ofclass/ ofHawaii Pressoccupational data and to account for the modest shift in their longitudinal structure are ofgreat interest. More questions remain, however, than can be answered by focusing, as Marsh consciously does, on Taipei City as a unit. During most of 496 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997 these years, Taipei was unrivaled at drawing wealth (and hence layers of clerks and middle managers) from the entire island for both government and business. Also, by the late 1970s, proletarian and petty-producer jobs were migrating to China and Southeast Asia as Taipei-based enterprises entered these regions. Another , possibly very important factor in the shift in Taibei's class structure is the 1980s effort by face-conscious officials and environment-sensitive citizens to expel dirty production processes from the city. Locating the city as the center of an expanding system of profit-extraction would seem to explain much of the shift in occupational structure and class consciousness that Marsh documents so well. For many researchers, the book's greatest value will lie in its exploration of kinship and gender issues. Despite the male bias in the sampling data, women are not neglected; Marsh offers frequent evidence that the gender division of labor has changed little. As wives, women appear as mediators in what turns out to be an important factor in male (and thus family) social mobility: "while the educational attainment of a man is influenced by his father's status, the later stages of his occupational attainment are more influenced by his father-in-law's status" (p. 178). This useful and original finding should prove very helpful in better integrating class and gender in future studies. Throughout, Marsh treats kinship as seriously as it deserves to be taken in an East Asian setting. Running counter to an older, Eurocentric image of modernization , in Taiwan, although families' "support for traditional, ideal normative obligations toward . . . parents and extended kin has declined, the behavioral...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 495-497
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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