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Confucian-Legalist State : A New Theory of Chinese History (Hardcover) (Dingxin Zhao)
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In the The Confucian-Legalist State, Dingxin Zhao offers a radically new analysis of Chinese imperial history from the eleventh century BCE to the fall of the Qing dynasty. This study first uncovers the factors that explain how, and why, China developed into a bureaucratic empire under the Qin dynasty in 221 BCE. It then examines the political system that crystallized during the Western Han dynasty, a system that drew on China's philosophical traditions of Confucianism and Legalism. Despite great changes in China's demography, religion, technology, and socioeconomic structures, this Confucian-Legalist political system survived for over two millennia. Yet, it was precisely because of the system's resilience that China, for better or worse, did not develop industrial capitalism as Western Europe did, notwithstanding China's economic prosperity and technological sophistication beginning with the Northern Song dynasty.In examining the nature of this political system, Zhao offers a new way of viewing Chinese history, one that emphasizes the importance of structural forces and social mechanisms in shaping historical dynamics. As a work of historical sociology,The Confucian-Legalist State aims to show how the patterns of Chinese history were not shaped by any single force, but instead by meaningful activities of social actors which were greatly constrained by, and at the same time reproduced and modified, the constellations of political, economic, military, and ideological forces. This book thus offers a startling new understanding of long-term patterns of Chinese history, one that should trigger debates for years to come among historians, political scientists, and sociologists.
The Confucian-Legalist State analyzes the history of China between the 11th century BCE and 1911 under the guidance of a new theory of social change. It centers on two questions. First, how and why China was unified and developed into a bureaucratic empire under the state of Qin in 221 BCE? Second, how was it that, until the nineteenth century, the political and cultural structure of China that was institutionalized during the Western Han dynasty (206 BCE - 8 CE) showed great resilience, despite great changes in demography, socioeconomic structure, ethnic composition, market relations, religious landscapes, technology, and in other respects brought by rebellions or nomadic conquests? In addressing these two questions, author Dingxin Zhao also explains numerous other historical patterns of China, including but not limited to the nature of ancient China's interstate relations, the logics behind the rising importance of imperil Confucianism during the Western Han dynasty and behind the formation of Neo-Confucian society during the Song dynasty (960-1279 CE), the changing nature of China's religious ecology under the age of Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism, the pattern of interactions between nomads and sedentary Chinese empires, the rise and dominance of civilian government, and China's inability to develop industrial capitalism without the coercion of Western imperialism.
Number of Pages: 447
Series Title: Oxford Studies in Early Empires
Publisher: Oxford Univ Pr
Author: Dingxin Zhao
Street Date: November 13, 2015
Item Number (DPCI): 247-50-5141