Chinese Economic History in Comparative Perspective

Paul S. Ropp

in Heritage of China

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 1990 | ISBN: 9780520064409
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520908932 | DOI:
Chinese Economic History in Comparative Perspective

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This chapter provides an overview of how the early Chinese family system was linked to the social, political, and economic systems of the Chou through Han periods. The key changes that occurred from T'ang times on and their links to other historical changes are then explored. The early development of the Chinese family may be traced using three sets of ideas and practices: those concerned with descent (patrilineality), with ethics (filial piety), and with authority and property (patriarchy). The development of marriage institutions in China was closely tied to the development of patrilineality, filial piety, and patriarchy. Footbinding appears to have steadily spread during Sung times, and explanations for it should be sought in Sung circumstances, but widow chastity had very little specific connection to the Sung, the idea predating the Sung and the exaggerated emphasis on it developing much later.

Keywords: Chinese family; patrilineality; filial piety; patriarchy; marriage; footbinding; widow chastity

Chapter.  7404 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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