The Societies of Asia
This chapter offers a broad survey of societies of Asia and finds, despite the differences among them, many similarities. It examines in more detail the importance of education and learning, material welfare, and role of law in Asian societies. In every Asian society, acceptable forms of deviance from social norms did develop, however, often under the umbrella of religion, as with Buddhist hermits, Daoist eccentrics, Hindu sadhus, and Sufi mystics. Asian societies are hierarchically based. For most Asians, an individual’s place in social hierarchy is still the most important single determinant of how he or she must behave, and the proper observance of hierarchical rules is the most basic means of preserving social and political harmony. In other societies, status groupings are associated with noble birth, feudal-style relations, occupation, age, gender, and levels of literacy and learning. The emphasis on achieving status through learning remains a distinctive aspect of Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese societies to the present day.