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OrganisingGlobalisation Paradoxes-Tarde's theories of imitation and the case of the Western IP regime in China

Speaker: Xiaobai Shen
When: 09:00, April 17, 2017
Where: 401 Law Building, Minhang Campus

In current globalisation, Western social, economic, legal mechanisms for trade and related activities have been widely disseminated; developing countries have equally imitated Western social-economic systems and pursued ‘best practices'. This paper investigates China's imitation of the Western Intellectual Property (IP) regime in history and the present day. To understand the deeply paradoxical outcomes observed, we draw upon the sociology of imitation of the classic French sociologist, Gabriel Tarde. We argue that globalisation in essence is imitative, including the top down organised imitation at international level at the heart of this case. Many of these organised imitations have been orchestrated by powerful Western governments and international organisations. As well as coercive imitation forces, we find powerful desire for imitation arising from the internal volition of imitators from the developing countries. We analyse the complex, contradictory and changing array of desires and beliefs behind such imitation."Social distance"between donor and imitator create cognitive barriers which lead to unexpected and /or unintended outcomes. Imitation thus involves (non-rational) somnambulistic elements, conditioned by structures of economics power and influence.