Zheng Hangsheng‘ life and work


by Xiangqun Chang (后面的中文版为黄家亮翻译)

Following the death in 2013 of the great Chinese sociologist Lu Xueyi (see ‘Professor Lu Xueyi’ in Network, Winter, 2013), the world of sociology was further saddened by the passing in 2014 of Zheng Hangsheng. They were both successors to the international renowned Chinese sociologist Fei Xiaotong (1910–2005), Professor of Peking University and President of the Chinese Sociological Association (1979–1990). With Fei at the top and Lu and Zheng on each side, the three were described as the ‘Chinese sociological pyramid’. In his memorial article on Lu Xueyi in 2013, Zheng listed three things in common that they shared: they both shifted their discipline from philosophy to sociology; they both held longstanding leadership at the top of the CSA and other state-run sociological planning and governing organizations; and they both set up foundations for social development, pursuing different missions. In addition to this, they were joint winners of the first Fei Xiaotong Academic Achievement Award in 2012. The major difference between Zheng and the other two was that he had never been a state or party leader like Fei, nor worked in the CASS (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences – a semi-academic, quasi think tank of the Communist Party of China and the state) like Lu. However, Party and state’s leaders over the past three decades who sent condolences on Zheng includes Li Keqiang, Politburo Standing Committee of CPC, Premier of the State Council; Hu Jintao, Former CPC Central Committee General Secretary and State President; and Zhu Rongji, Former Politburo Standing Committee, Premier of the State Council; to name but a few.

Zheng Hangsheng was born in Hangzhou City in Zhejiang Province. His father worked in Hangzhou High Court as a clerk. Hangzhou is one of the cities in China that had the sobriquet ‘Heaven on Earth’. Zheng’s first name, ‘Hangsheng’, was formed from two Chinese characters meaning ‘born in Hangzhou City’. However, when he was one and half years old, the Japanese War started and his family moved to Yutao County, where they lived in a place near to the Confucian temple. From 1944 to 1953 he received education at primary and lower middle schools. In 1953 Zheng passed examinations, with very high marks, for entrance to Shanghai Middle School, where he achieved outstanding results and was recommended for admission to Renmin University of China (RUC) without taking examinations in 1956.

He spent 58 years first studying and then working at RUC until the end of his life, so that in his own words he was ‘married’ to RUC. But this ‘marriage’ was not without problems: he and the whole university were sent to Yujiang County, Jiangxi Province, during the Cultural Revolution period from 1967 to 1972, and his department was merged into Beijing Normal University from 1972 until the RUC was re-established in 1977. His academic career can be divided into two halves: philosophical work before 1981 and sociological work afterwards. Altogether his publications amounted to 400 articles and more than 100 academic books, including co-authored books and textbooks.

The career shaping event in his life was coming under the direct influence of Fei Xiaotong himself when they were aboard the same flight to the UK on 8 November 1981. Fei was to receive the Huxley Memorial Medal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI), whereas Zheng was going to the University of Bristol as a Visiting Fellow. After returning to the RUC, profoundly influenced by his meeting with Fei, Zheng founded the Department of Sociology. In the following three decades, he devoted himself to the study of Chinese sociological history, theory, methods and applied studies.

Zheng’s work has characteristics that distinguish it from that of Fei Xiaotong and Lu Xueyi. It has enriched the academic achievements of the Chinese School of Sociology, and has advanced China’s social development and society building. He summarised his theoretical contribution as ‘five theories’: social operation, social transformation, social mutual-construction, practice-structure theory, and localization of the sociological discipline (2005). Zheng created the Chinese school of ‘social operation’ and promoted ‘theory awareness’ among academia, as well as setting off a broad discussion on the topic with senior government officials. Methodologically, Zheng enhanced a global vision and sense of frontier, from a grassroots standpoint, stressing the importance of re-evaluation, re-understanding and re-refining existing work, and promoted the careful handling of the basic three pairs of relations, such as that between sociologies of China and the West, history and current, theory and practice. For example, he published Local Character and Vision of the World in 2006, and later co-authored a book on social development in China and America from a comparative perspective (2013). Zheng’s applied, evidence-based studies are reflected in the book series that he edited: RUC’s China Social Development Report (14 books), Sociological Library (18 books), China’s Harmonious Community Fieldwork Reports (5 books), Urban Social Development Fieldwork Reports in Contemporary China (5 books), Comprehensive Reform of Hainan Province (5 books) and Building a Comprehensive Moderately Prosperous Society (11 books). The books have had a wide impact on China’s policy making.

Zheng believed that language matters for social scientific studies. He translated two Western philosophical books into Chinese (1964, 1981). Moreover, after he became RUC’s Vice-President he persuaded the British Council to fund the RUC for £30,000 per year for three years in the early 1990s. With this grant, RUC was able to send 40 visiting scholars from the disciplines of sociology, economics, political science, international relations and environmental science to the London School of Economics, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Wales, Bangor, and the University of Wales, Lampeter, among others. Furthermore, in 2014 Zheng helped to establish the UK-based Global China Press, writing the preface for a book series and advising on the title of seven further series, all to be published in both English and Chinese. 

Away from his academic career, Zheng had many interests, such as playing the piano, singing, composing, writing poems, calligraphy, enjoying WeChat on a mobile device and riding an electric bicycle. He married Gong Yanhua in 1962 and they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 2012. In February 2012, a conference marking the 50th anniversary of Zheng Hangsheng’s academic career was held in RUC, attended by more than 400 people, including over 70 of his PhD students. They had a son, Zheng Jie, and a daughter, Zheng Ying. Zheng was a caring husband and loving father. He will be remembered for the warmth and affection he offered to his friends, colleagues and students nationally and internationally, no less than to his family.

Note: It was published in Network, Magazine of British Sociological Association, Spring 2015


常向群(英文)黄家亮 译

本文载于英国社会学协会会刊Network,2015年春季号,第44页 (Network,Magazine of the British Sociological Association, Spring 2015)

      继2013年中国著名社会学家陆学艺先生逝世(见Network“陆学艺教授”,2013)后,2014年郑杭生先生的逝世使社会学界再度陷入沉重的悲痛之中。 两位先生都是享誉世界的中国社会学家费孝通先生先生(1910–2005)的继承者,费孝通曾是北京大学教授,并于1979—1990年担任中国社会学学会会长。费孝通、陆学艺和郑杭生被一些社会学者形象地比喻为“中国社会学的金字塔”,其中费居于塔尖,陆和郑位于两侧。2013年,郑杭生在悼念陆学艺的 文章中列出了两人三个方面的共同点:他们都是从哲学转向社会学;都长期担任社会学系所、社会学界、或涉及社会学的各种规划、评审和编写机构的主要领导职 务;都创办了不同类型的旨在促进社会发展的基金会。此外,他们二人还在2012年同时获得了“首届费孝通学术成就奖”。与其他两位先生相比,郑杭生既不像 费孝通一样曾经担任国家和民主党派的领导职务,也不像陆学艺一样长期在半学术半官方智库性质的中国社会科学院工作。然而,在他逝世后,有三十年来历届主要 的党和国家领导人表示了哀悼。
郑杭生出生于素有“人间天堂”之称的浙江杭州,他的父亲曾在杭州高级法院作文书工作。他名字中的“杭生”两个字就是 取“在杭州出生”之意。然而,在他一岁半的时候,日本发动侵华战争,他们举家迁往浙江余姚,住在一座孔庙的附近。1944-1953年,他在余姚接受了小 学和初中教育。1953年,他以高分考入中国当时非常著名的上海中学。在那里,他表现突出,并以优异的成绩于1956年被保送进入中国人民大学学习。
       从学习到工作,他在人大度过了58年,直到生命的最后一刻,所以,用他自己的话来说就是“我一辈子‘嫁’给了人大”。但是,这场“婚姻”也不是一帆风顺。 在“文化大革命”期间的1967-1972年,人民大学被解散,他和另外一些同事被送到江西余江农村参加劳动锻炼;从1972年开始,他原先所在的院系被 并入了北京师范大学,一直到1977年中国人民大学恢复重建。郑杭生的学术生涯包括两个阶段,即1981年前以哲学研究为主的阶段和之后以社会学研究为主 的阶段。他一生中学术成果十分丰硕,学术论文400余篇,专著、合著、编著、教材在内的各种学术著作100余部。
1981年11月8日,郑杭生与 费孝通同机飞往英国,在飞机上郑杭生受到了费孝通的直接影响。当时费孝通去接受英国皇家人类学学会颁发的赫胥黎奖章,而郑杭生是去布里斯托尔大学做访问学 者。结束在英国的研修回到中国人民大学之后,郑杭生先后创立了社会学研究所和社会学系。在接下来的三十年里,他献身于中国社会学的历史、理论、方法与应用 等方面的研究。
郑杭生的学术研究特点有别于费孝通和陆学艺。他丰富了中国社会学学派的学术成果并推动了中国社会发展与社会建设。他将其理论贡献总 结为“五个理论”,即社会运行论、社会转型论、社会互构论、实践结构论和社会学学科本土论。郑杭生开创了中国社会学的“社会运行学派”,并且呼吁中国学术 界要提升“理论自觉”,他的观点在学术界及国家高层引起热烈的反响。在方法论上,他强调既要有站在世界学术前沿的全球视野、又要有扎根基层实践的草根精 神,他提出要对学术研究中的三对最基本的关系进行再认识,如中西关系、古今关系、理论和实践关系 。这也体现在他自己的学术实践当中,如2006年,他出版了一本题为《本土特质与世界眼光》的书;在2013年,他又与人合编了一本从比较视角看中国和美 国社会建设的书。郑杭生的实证、应用研究反映在他主编的一系列丛书中,如:《中国人民大学中国社会发展研究报告》(共14本)、《社会学文库》(18 本)、《中国特色和谐社区建设系列调查研究报告》(5卷)、《当代中国城市社会发展实地调查研究系列丛书》(5卷)、《南海综合改革系列丛书》(5本)、 《全面建设小康社会系列丛书》(11本)。这些著作对中国的政策制定产生了广泛的影响。
       郑杭生认为,语言问题对社会科学的研究来说非常重要。他曾将两本国外哲学著作翻译为中文(1964,1981)出版。此外,在上世纪九十年代初,任中国人 民大学副校长期间,他与英国文化委员会商定了一个项目,由英方持续三年每年给人民大学30000英镑经费。有了这项资助,中国人民大学从社会学、经济学、 政治学、国际关系学和环境科学中共派出40多名访问学者去到英国的伦敦经济学院、爱丁堡大学、威尔士班戈大学、威尔士大学兰彼得分校等大学留学。2014 年,他还帮助建立了总部位于英国的全球中国出版社,给一个丛书撰写了序言并且提议出版另外七套后续系列丛书。所有这些著作都将以中英两种文字出版。
       在学术生涯以外,郑杭生先生还有许多兴趣爱好,比如弹钢琴、唱歌、作曲、写诗、书法、微信以及骑电动车。2012年2月,中国人民大学举办了郑杭生教授从 教50周年学术研讨会,与会人员400多名,其中包括郑老的70多名博士生。1962年他与宫延华女士结婚并在2012年举办了五十周年金婚庆典。他们育 有一儿一女,郑捷和郑莹。郑杭生是一位体贴的丈夫和慈爱的父亲,同时他也给予国内外朋友、同事和学生们像家人一样的关爱与帮助,这些将永远会被大家铭记!


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