china today…

…a clannish society — at least in rural areas (no, i haven’t read any of these — just found the abstracts online):

Several Theoretical Problems Related to Current Studies of Chinese Rural Clans – pub. in Social Sciences in China, May 2000

Abstract: Alongside the modernization process in rural areas there has emerged a rational trend based on the original patriarchal structure of rural society. As social organizations, clans have a double role to play in current rural development. On the one hand, they are detrimental in terms of social stability, but, on the other, they try to encourage their members to adapt to existing social institutions and structures in order to ensure their continued survival. As a result of the inclusion of relations by marriage and fictitious kinship relations, modern clans are quite different from the traditional patriarchal clans in terms of both membership and structure. The authors focus on clans in everyday life, clans in relation to events, and the practical institutional innovations of clan members. Clans in northern rural areas are quite different from those in southern rural areas in terms of their organizational form, the form of their activities and their external features. Only by conducting investigations in a number of areas can we gain a general picture of the current situation of clans in China’s rural areas and the role they play in the modernization drive.

apparently, clans came back with a vengeance in china in the 1970s and 80s (or maybe they had never really gone away at all…):

Resurrection and Evolution of the Village Clan in Central Anhui-Province over the Past Thirty Years:With Paifang Village of Shanqi Town in Shucheng County for Example – pub. in Contemporary China History Studies, Jan 2009

Abstract: It is almost thirty years since the village clans resurrected in the late 1970s. Studies on the causes of their resurrection have been on the increase in the academic circles. Based on the investigation of the development and changes over the thirty years in Paifang Village, a mountainous village in Central Anhui Province, this article divides the resurrection and evolution of rural clans in this period into two stages: the stage of transient resurrection of traditional clan functions from the late 1970s to the middle of 1990s and the stage of changes in clan notions, behaviors and organizations from the middle of the 1990s onwards. We can see from the analyses of the features of the two stages that the negative effects of clans are only a temporary phenomenon and that with the appearance of networked clans, a new combination of clans, the phenomenon of clans will not be finally dissolved in the big tide of modernization.

Family Culture and Economic Construction in Chaoshan District – pub. in China Rural Survey, March 2003.

Abstract: Family culture has become an important non-institutional variable of local economy through the renaissance of family (lineage) organization in Chaoshan District, Guangdong Province since 1980s. Via investigation on the family organization of Zhangshi Wufang (the fifth branch of lineage Zhangshi), this article sums up the general features of family organization in Chaoshan District, which are regarded as cultural variables in the economic reconstruction in Chaoshao District. In response to the absence of market trust in Chaoshan District, this article analyzes it from a perspective of family culture and proposes the correspondent suggestions to deal with it.

Variation of Rural Clans and Adaptation to Modern Society — Taking the Hengtang People in Wuming County as an Example – pub. in Journal of Baise University (Journal of Youjiang Teachers College for Nationalities Guangxi) Jan. 2008.

Abstract: The transformation of the society in 1980s serves as a turning point of clan development. This paper presents a clan survey of Hengtang people who are a branch of Han Chinese Nationality in Wuming County and the finding is that the clansmen attach much importance to the development of clan culture though some traditional elements of modern clans are missing, which is considered as a variation based on the old clan shape and an attempt to suit the social changes.

not surprisingly, clans are a problem for the central government:

The Parasitic Relation between Clan and Villager’s Committee and Its Effeet on the Rural Rule of Law in Modern China – pub. in Journal of Hunan Public Security College, April 2003.

Abstract: Because the villager’s committee has played an important role in the management of the village under the system of country administration, it has been the most important and direct organization of power. Theoretically, it should be a main media by which the modern rule of law is introduced to the countryside. However, the findings of the analysis of the members and work content of the villager’s committee suggests that some villager’s committee, to a great degree, has became the parasitic carrier of some clans so that the rule of law has lost the last supporter and has fallen into a dilemma that it cannot be widely introduced to the countryside.

blood is thicker than water.

roman catholic church = 1, maoism = 0. (~_^)

see also: Ancestral home

previously: chinese kinship terms…

(note: comments do not require an email. you want some tea with that?)

10 Comments

  1. Very interesting, chick, the more one reads about this , it explains why the NW Euros are so different from the default human arrangements. It explains a lot.

    Reply

  2. @svk – “[I]t explains why the NW Euros are so different from the default human arrangements.”

    we do seem to be the odd ones in the pack. (~_^)

    Reply

  3. “or maybe they had never really gone away at all”

    went underground during the cultural revolution maybe.

    Reply

  4. Not sure if it is true, but I read some years ago that overseas Chinese businesses were limited in their size because the owners could/would only trust members of their own family/clan. I believe something similar was the case for Jewish merchants engaged in long-distance trade in pre-modern times: a Jew could only trust another Jew. Again, not sure if it is true.

    Reply

  5. One more comment re: “with the appearance of networked clans, a new combination of clans, the phenomenon of clans will not be finally dissolved in the big tide of modernization.”

    I often wonder why, in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, we work against or across the grain of existing institutions (clans, tribes) instead of with them? Isn’t there a way (or ways) to make each clan an administrative unit, a representative voting district, etc., in a democratic set up? If, as hbd* chick has suggested, it takes 25 generations of out-marriage to produce Western individualism, a process which appears to have gone a little to far here in polyglot America (again hat tip to you) — shouldn’t we be looking for ways to make family work in the modernization process.

    And while we’re at it, shouldn’t we also be exporting rather than importing human capital? Corporations would be the ideal vehicle, and new breed of managers/missionaries a la The East India Company!

    Which reminds me of a joke. How do physics PhD’s make their cars go faster?

    Give up? They take the pizza delivery signs off the roof.

    Reply

  6. One more joke apropos the above, this one an original by my wife. When the war in Afghanistan first started we offered a ten or maybe it was 25 million dollar reward to any Afghani tribesman for information leading to the capture of Ben Laden.

    Pat (that’s my wife) sarcastically remarked they would get better results if they offered a herd of goats.

    Reply

  7. Chinese in rural area have always been clannish since the beginning. In the old time it was the big landlord with several small family in each village. It is no surprise sometimes to find a village with only one surname.
    Having said that, Chinese do have the tradition not to marry within the same surname. A lot of marriage in the rural China in the old time happened in adjacent villages among different families. People see this as an outreach of one’s clannish power.
    In the cities, since the old time, this was never the case though. But once again, not long ago, 80% of Chinese populations are real peasants who farm.

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  8. @luke – “I often wonder why, in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, we work against or across the grain of existing institutions (clans, tribes) instead of with them?”

    well, i know that the military does — or, at least, they’ve thought about it. any time i’ve done any googling about tribes in iraq and afghanistan, i get all sorts of results from the u.s. military — esp. ppt presentations apparently given to soldiers on the ground to understand the dynamics of the situation in those countries.

    sure. it would make sense for our so-called political leaders to do the same … but when do they ever do anything that makes any sense? (~_^)

    tribes, tho, seem to have a sort-of democratic system of their own — just not one like ours. at least traditionally, when major decisions had to be made in an arab tribe, for instance, all the adult males were consulted. if they weren’t, there could wind up being some fighting and splintering of the tribe! so, in a way, they’ve already got — or had before we started interfering, a democratic system — just not on a national level. at least, that’s what the anthropologists say.

    Reply

  9. @luke – “How do physics PhD’s make their cars go faster?

    Give up? They take the pizza delivery signs off the roof.”

    (^_^) (^_^) (^_^)

    Reply

  10. @the slitty eye – “Having said that, Chinese do have the tradition not to marry within the same surname.”

    sure. but at the same time, there seems to have been a tradition of marrying the mbd (mother’s brother’s daughter) — so, it’s a cousin-marriage system, but one that results in broader alliances than the arab system which keeps everything in the male lineage.

    @the slitty eye – “Chinese in rural area have always been clannish since the beginning…. In the cities, since the old time, this was never the case though. But once again, not long ago, 80% of Chinese populations are real peasants who farm.”

    well, this is exactly the thing — who’s been inbreeding and for how long? 80% of the population have been regularly marrying their cousins (or, at least, very locally in an endogamous sort-of way — like the greeks) for a very long time? then one would have to expect certain sorts of inclusive fitness-related behaviors to be dominant in the society.

    Reply

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