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Fate and fortune in rural China - James Z. Lee

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Fate and fortune in rural China - social organization and population behavior in Liaoning, 1774-1873
James Z. Lee
Cambridge University Press
UK Publication Date

Fate and Fortune in Rural China is a major contribution to the study of both the social and population history of late traditional China, and that of historical demography in general. Lee and Campbell use the example of Liaoning to demonstrate the interaction between demographic and other social pressures, and to illustrate graphically the nature of social mobility and social organization in rural China over the course of the century from 1774-1873. Their conclusion - that social norms, rooted in ideology, determined demographic performance - is supported by a mass of hitherto inaccessible primary data. The authors show how the Chinese state articulated two different principles of social hierarchy, heredity and ability, through two different social organizations: households and banners. These different boundary conditions, each the explicit creation of the state, gave rise to contrasting demographic behaviour.

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'More than a decade in the making, this book is a brilliant achievement. Even those without a taste for numerical calculations should read this work carefully. Its conclusions are solid, and its implications very large for future studies of imperial China's society.' The Journal of Asian Studies

'I strongly recommend this book to be a required reader for any future China scholars in the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, history, demography, or research methodology.' American Anthropologist

'This is a landmark work on Chinese social history.' American Journal of Sociology

'Meticulous … and intelligent … [A] major achievement.' Population and Development Review

'Lee and Campbell present a detailed and compex analysis of Daoyi Village …' Asian Affairs

Keyword Index
Population geography - China - Liaoning Sheng - History - 18th century.|Population geography - China - Liaoning Sheng - History - 19th century.|Liaoning Sheng (China) - Rural conditions.
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