Many studies on witch killings in Africa suggest that “witchcraft is the dark side of kinship.” But in Chinese history, where patriarchal clan system has been emphasized as the foundation of the society, there have been few occurrences of witch-hunting except a large-scale one in the Cultural Revolution in 1966. The purpose of this paper is to explain the above two paradoxes.
Theoretical analysis based on preference falsification problem with regard to the effect of social structure on witch-hunting is carried out.
There is a “bright side of kinship” due to two factors: first, it would be more difficult to pick out a person as qualitatively different in Chinese culture; second, the hierarchical trust structure embedded in the Chinese culture can help mitigate the preference falsification problem, which acts as the leverage for witch-hunting. In this sense, an important factor for the Cultural Revolution is the decline of traditional social institutions and social values after 1949.
This paper is the first to advance the two paradoxes and offer an explanation from the perspective of social structure.
CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited