Aspects of Social Mobility in China, 1368–1911

TitleAspects of Social Mobility in China, 1368–1911
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1959
AuthorsHo, P-ti
JournalComparative Studies in Society and History
ISBN Number0010-4175
Keywordsarticle, ASPECTS OF, CHINA : SOCIAL MOBILITY IN, China/Chinese, Social mobility, SOCIAL MOBILITY : IN CHINA

'The interplay of the Confucian dualistic soc concepts-inequality of men & the justification of human inequality through the doctrine of determinating SS by individual merit-has profoundly colored the character of traditional Chinese society.' The degree of success in harmonizing these 2 diff. concepts is evidenced in a competitive examination system, which is the main avenue of mobility. The status system of Ming & Ch'ing China was fluid & flexible, & because of the instit'alized competitive channel for the recruitment of members of the RC, the amount of upward SM was substantial. 'Ming & Ch'ing China had more instit'alized & non-instit'alized channels which promoted upward SM than probably any major pre-modern society, but had practically no instit'alized means to prevent downward SM.' Thus the RC was not a self-perpetuating body. The question is raised as to whether 'such substantial amount of mobility would affect soc stability in general & the status of the RC in particular.' No, because: (1) 'at any given period of 2 or 3 generations substantial numbers of new chin-shih came from old official fam's, a fact which gave the bur'cy its continuity, stability & opportunities to assimilate new comers, & (2) all aspirants to office ... were trained to conform to the Confucian theology.' The T'ang period 'was an important transition during which the power of the early-medieval heredity aristocracy was gradually broken up under the impact of the competitive examination system. SM on a signif scale first occurred in the Tang dynasty, became more substantial in Sung times, reached its maximum in the first 200 yrs of the Ming period, & began to level off from the late 16th cent.' E. Weiman.