Chinese social structure

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Metropolitan Civil Examination Records from the Sixth Year of the Hongzhi Reign (1493)

The social structure of China has an extensive history which stems from the feudal society of Imperial China to the contemporary era.

Confucianism[edit]

Further information: Rectification of Names

The teaching of Confucius (551 BCE – 479 BCE) taught of five basic relationships in life:

  • Father to son
  • Elder brother to younger brother
  • husband to wife
  • friend to friend
  • Ruler to structure

For dynasties that used Confucianism (Not Legalism). The first noted person(s) in the relationship was always superior and had to act as a guide and leader/ role model to the second noted person(s), as the second person was to follow. Ex: Father;1st noted, Son;2nd noted.

Early Imperial Period[edit]

From the Qin Dynasty to the late Qing Dynasty (221 BC-AD 1840), the Chinese government divided Chinese people into four classes: landlord, peasant, craftsmen, and merchant. Landlords and peasants constituted the two major classes, while merchant and craftsmen were collected into the two minor. Theoretically, except for the position of the Emperor, nothing was hereditary.[citation needed]

During the 361 years of civil war after the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD), there was a partial restoration of feudalism when wealthy and powerful families emerged with large amounts of land and huge numbers of semi-serfs. They dominated important civilian and military positions of the government, making the positions available to members of their own families and clans.[1][2] After the Tang dynasty's yellow emergence, the government extended the Imperial examination system as an attempt to eradicate this feudalism.[citation needed]

Qing dynasty[edit]

In the Qing dynasty, the lower classes of ordinary people were divided into two categories: one of them the good "commoner" people, the other the "mean" people. Prostitutes, entertainers, and low level government employees were the people in the mean class. The mean people were heavily discriminated against, forbidden to take the Imperial Examination, and mean and good people could not marry each other.[3][4][5][6][7]


1949 to 1976[edit]

Just as farmers were put into communes, state workers were placed in large work units called danweis. Since urban education reform was growing at a much faster rate than in rural areas, more and more workers were high school graduates. The slowing down of state industries and the increasing number of qualified middle class candidates contributed to the fact it became more and more difficult to obtain a position as a state worker.[citation needed]

At this time, the hukou system was implemented, which divided the population into urban and rural residents. This was done to make distribution of state services through danweis and communes easier and to better organize the population in preparation for a possible invasion from the Soviet Union. The hukou system made it illegal to migrate from the countryside to the city.[citation needed]

During the Cultural Revolution, the composition of society changed again. Schools were closed and many youth were sent down to the countryside putatively to learn from the peasants. Concern for peasants was reflected in the rural medical and educational services known as barefoot doctors and barefoot teachers. The life expectancy of peasants increased from less than forty years before 1949 to more than sixty years in the 1970s. At the same time, peasants were still the most illiterate, most powerless, and poorest social class.[citation needed]

Access to state bank loans[edit]

In all the annual meetings of the national congress and national political consultative conference, capitalist legislators and representatives always complain about the difficulties in getting loans from state banks. Most of them said that during the process of their development they never got one cent in loans, and complained that in their localities the standard bribe for a loan is as high as 20 to 30% of the loan. (Tsai, 2002)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Robert Mortimer Marsh, Mandarins: The Circulation of Elites in China, 1600-1900, Ayer (June, 1980), hardcover, ISBN 0-405-12981-5
  2. ^ The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 13, 30
  3. ^ Susan Naquin; Evelyn Sakakida Rawski (1989). Chinese Society in the Eighteenth Century (reprint, illustrated ed.). Yale University Press. p. 117. ISBN 0-300-04602-2. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  4. ^ Jacob E. Safra (2003). The New Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 16 (15 ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. p. 122. ISBN 0-85229-961-3. Retrieved 2011-11-07. 
  5. ^ Britannica Educational Publishing (2010). Kenneth Pletcher, ed. The History of China. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 226. ISBN 1-61530-181-X. Retrieved 2011-11-07. 
  6. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, inc (1998). The New Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 8; Volume 16 (15 ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. p. 122. ISBN 0-85229-633-9. Retrieved 2011-11-07. 
  7. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, inc (1991). The New Encyclopædia Britannica: Marcopædia. Volume 16 of The New Encyclopædia Britannica (15 ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. p. 122. ISBN 0-85229-529-4. Retrieved 2011-11-07. 

References[edit]

  1. China Cadre Statistics Fifty Years, 1949–1998, 1.
  2. China Labor Statistical Yearbook 1998, 9., 17.
  3. China Statistical Yearbook 2002, 120-121.
  4. China Statistical Yearbook 2004, 126-127 and 150.
  5. People's Daily Overseas Edition, 10/11/2002, 1.
  • The figures of cadre from 1966–1970, as well as 2002–2003 are estimated.
  • From 1958 to 1977, the figure of peasant workers was around 20 million. However, China's official statistics had begun to count them only from 1978.
  • From 1979 to 1993, the number of cadres increased from eighteen million to thirty-seven million.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • China from the Inside - 2006 PBS documentary. KQED Public Television and Granada Television for PBS, Granada International and the BBC.