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Chinese Society in the Eighteenth Century

Chinese Society in the Eighteenth Century

Copyright Date: 1987
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 270
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  • Book Info
    Chinese Society in the Eighteenth Century
    Book Description:

    During the eighteenth century, China's new Manchu rulers consolidated their control of the largest empire China had ever known. In this book Susan Naquin and Evelyn S. Rawski draw on the most recent research to provide a unique overview and reevaluation of the social history of China during this period--one of the most dynamic periods in China's early modern era."A lucid, original, and scholarly summary of the social, economic, and demographic history of China's last great period of glory. This will be an important book for students of Chinese history."-Jonathan Spence, Yale University"Engaging, complex, and elegantly written. . . . Absorbing and valuable: a thorough, unique, and richly detailed account of the social forms and cultural and religious life of the people."-Choice"[An] interesting and well-informed survey of China between about 1680 and 1820."-W.J.F. Jenner,Asian Affairs"I would be a very odd scholar or general reader who could not derive profit from reading this elegant and painstaking survey of the social, cultural, and economic life of the Qing empire in its apparent prime. . . . A superb survey which readers may absorb and cherish."-Alexander Woodside,Pacific Affairs"A highly readable synthesis of recent secondary literature on the subject."-William S. Atwell,Journal of Asian Studies"Their coverage is comprehensive and their writing is clear and lucid. reading this book obtains one a very broad, yet penetrative, view of Chinese society at the time."-Alan P.L. Liu,Asian Thought & Society"The ground covered by this book is vast. . . . Its very breadth conveys with great clarity the extent of current knowledge of pre_x001E_modern China: it also serves as an excellent introduction to the social history of the Qing dynasty."-Hugh D.R. Baker,China Quarterly"This is a most challenging work and ambitious work. . . .Chinese Society in the Eighteenth Century giveboth the general reader and also the historian who does not study China a tool for grounding himself or herself in the basic patterns and trends that could be found in eighteenth century China as well as in the problems the specialists are now exploring. The book is also of great value to students of traditional and modern China, for it serves to synthesize much of the new literature on China in the High Qing. Thus it serves the 'China hand' as a state of the field essay that shows just where we are even as it suggests directions for future research."-Murray A. Rubinstein,American Asian Review"This excellent book provides an intelligent summary our rapidly changing understanding of Chinese society in a crucial century of political stability and economic and demographic expansion. Susan Naquin and Evelyn S. Rawski are distinguished contributors to the field, energetically engaged in its multinational communication networks."-John E. Wills, Jr.,American Historical Review

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16194-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Plates, Tables, and Maps
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. A Note on Chinese Terms
    (pp. xiii-xiii)
  6. MAPS
    (pp. xiv-xvii)
  7. Qing Reign Periods
    (pp. xviii-xviii)
  8. Part One: Qing Society

    • 1 Government Policies
      (pp. 3-32)

      Few residents of the Middle Kingdom were unaware of the political system within which they lived. Like heaven, the emperor may have been far away, but people knew he was there; they could name the current dynasty and even numbered the years according to the length of each reign. A peasant did not have to understand the structure of the Qing bureaucracy to know that there were officials, somewhere, with the authority to make arrests, collect taxes, and lead armies. The precise impact of this state on its citizens is difficult to measure, however, and historians have probably assumed that...

    • 2 Social Relations
      (pp. 33-54)

      From very early times, the orderly management of human relationships has been a central concern of Chinese thought. Since at least the time of Confucius (who lived in the fifth century B.C.) hierarchical relations between individuals have been upheld as the source of social order, and the family has been a primary social institution. These ideals persisted even as social realities became far more complicated. A look at the Qing period will illustrate this complexity and will show how social relations beyond those created by family or state came to be extremely important.

      Admirers of Chinese society have praised its...

    • 3 Cultural Life
      (pp. 55-94)

      In preceding chapters we introduced some of the fundamental economic and social structures of Qing society. In this chapter we turn to the cultural life of eighteenth-century China, urban and rural, elite and popular. Our definition of culture is a broad one that includes values and beliefs, rituals and festivals, and the material culture of daily life. These aspects of society are difficult for historians to recapture, partly because we lack the kinds of materials that anthropologists have at their disposal but also because few historians have ventured far into these waters. Even a cursory survey of the major topics,...

  9. Part Two: Change and Diversity in Eighteenth-Century Society

    • 4 Social Change
      (pp. 97-137)

      Having set the stage and described in general terms the contours of Qing society and culture, we shall now look even more specifically at the diversity in this society and at the changes most characteristic of the eighteenth century. In this Part we explore first the eighteenth-century expansion and diversification of the Qing economy that was the foundation for so many social changes, then the demographic increases of the period and the related processes of social differentiation and social mobility. Next we consider in detail the various constellations of social problems and institutions found in each of China’s macroregions. The...

    • 5 Regional Societies
      (pp. 138-216)

      Most descriptions of Chinese society have focused on China as a whole. Regional variations were overlooked in favor of generalizations that could hold true for the entire country. This approach has been most useful when applied to the society of the high elite, who by definition were molded by common careers and were active on a national level. The political borders represented by provinces only sometimes reflect the much more significant boundaries imposed by geography; moreover, the policies of the Chinese state rarely affected all regions in the same way—how could they? G. W. Skinner has more recently proposed...

    • 6 The Eighteenth-Century Legacy
      (pp. 217-236)

      It has been generally accepted that the eighteenth century was the apogee of Qing power and that the social, economic, and political problems of the end of the century were the signals of the protracted dynastic collapse that culminated in 1911, when nationalist movements forced the tenth emperor of the ruling house to abdicate in favor of a republican form of government. Traditional Chinese historians, accustomed to viewing their past in terms of the rise and fall of ruling houses, have used the so-called dynastic cycle to explain the repeated progression from strength to weakness in this and previous dynasties....

  10. Notes
    (pp. 237-242)
  11. Selected Readings
    (pp. 243-264)
  12. Index
    (pp. 265-270)