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By Richard John Lufrano

In gentle of East Asia's present fiscal luck, it has develop into more and more transparent that Confucian social notion, lengthy assumed in Western scholarship to be an enormous stumbling block to financial improvement, can, below the right kind conditions, have precisely the contrary impact. Lufrano's research is the main sustained and complex of modern reevaluations of Confucianism's function within the fast advertisement improvement within the past due Ming to mid-Qing interval. it will likely be of serious curiosity and price to students within the transforming into box of chinese language enterprise historical past and will be welcomed by means of these attracted to the Confucian roots of Pacific Rim company perform.

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Extra info for Honorable Merchants: Commerce and Self-Cultivation in Late Imperial China

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36 Merchant culture evolved within the context of elite attempts to adjust education to meet the diversified needs of people living in a changing society and economy while still retaining the basic structure of agrarian society. Although part of the elite response constrained the development of a realistic merchant culture, other aspects supported it. book Page 35 Thursday, October 25, 2001 11:43 AM t h e lat e i mp e r i a l wor l d 35 the growing complexity of social structure. d. 37 Indeed, changes propelled by economic expansion and development during the late Tang-Song and continuing through the late imperial period led to the development of a broader and less formal social and cultural orthodoxy separate from the official orthodoxy of the government and the conservative elite.

This notion set an important precedent for the authors of the merchant manuals. In addition to advocating a kind of equality among all people and seeking to adjust Confucian teachings to the needs of the subordinate classes, the Taizhou school also reached out to nonelite people by establishing private academies and sponsoring large public lectures and discussions. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of nonelite people attended these events, and the teachings of this school spread widely. Perhaps because of this success, state authorities banned these teachings and dissolved the academies, after which the influence of the school waned.

Population growth was a much larger force than the government in merchant life and helped shape the culture of the mid-level merchant. Between 1700 and 1850, the population of China rose from approximately 150 million to roughly 430 million, for reasons that remain somewhat unclear. The introduction of New World food crops, such as the sweet and Irish potato, the peanut, and maize in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and the long years of peace ushered in by the Manchus after 1683 undoubtedly contributed significantly to this great demographic change.

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