Address correspondence to: Ming-Cheng Lo, Department of Sociology, University of California–Davis, Davis, CA 95616. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. We wish to thank Craig Calhoun, Laura Grindstaff, Drew Haffmann, Michael McQuarrie, Leigh Ann Wheeler, Chris Bettinger, Eileen Otis, Horng-luen Wang, and Chih-chie Tang, as well as reviewers and editors, for comments and criticism.
Hybrid Cultural Codes in Nonwestern Civil Society: Images of Women in Taiwan and Hong Kong*
Article first published online: 2 JUN 2010
© 2010 American Sociological Association
Volume 28, Issue 2, pages 167–192, June 2010
How to Cite
Lo, M.-C. M. and Fan, Y. (2010), Hybrid Cultural Codes in Nonwestern Civil Society: Images of Women in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Sociological Theory, 28: 167–192. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9558.2010.01372.x
- Issue published online: 2 JUN 2010
- Article first published online: 2 JUN 2010
Scholars have established that cultural codes and styles of expression in civil society must be recognized as informal mechanisms of exclusion, calling into question the possibility of the Habermasian normative ideal of the public sphere. This article joins theoretical discussions of how to remedy this problem. Going beyond Alexander's model of “multicultural incorporation” and borrowing from Sewell's theory of the duality of structure, we develop a theoretical framework of code hybridization to conceptualize how civil society participants achieve civil solidarity amid multiple, potentially contradictory cultural legacies. Code hybridization is a process whereby social actors not only incorporate the cultural codes of subordinate groups into the public sphere, but in doing so also potentially transform dominant codes. We conceptualize code hybridization in terms of three analytic steps: enlargement of the terrains of signification; reinterpretation of codes; and mixing of schemas. The resulting hybridized schemas and frameworks are particularly useful cultural tools for developing visions of civil inclusiveness for young, unstable civil societies. Using a brief comparative study of the representation of women in political cartoons in Hong Kong and Taiwan, we offer a concrete example of code hybridization—a process linking the codes of liberty and caring while producing alternative and more inclusive narratives during moments of political agitation.