Marital Networks and Portfolios of Prestige

Digital Humanities Perspectives on the Study of Taiwanese Elites

In: European Journal of East Asian Studies
Táňa Dluhošová Oriental Institute (Czech Academy of Sciences) Czech Republic Prague

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Many of today’s most successful Taiwanese companies are linked to prominent kin groups. Expanding existing historical scholarship, which has focused on elite families individually, the article opens up a broader perspective by investigating Taiwanese elites as a social group, albeit a heterogeneous one. Based on a dataset comprising family members and their relationships, the article first describes this marital network of 1,271 families. Subsequently, following a Bourdieusian approach, it analyses distinct elite groups and their engagement in multiple fields of activity, information about which is stored in TBIO (Taiwan Biographical Ontology), a biographical database established by the author. The analysis reveals the existence of characteristic combinations of capital—dubbed here ‘portfolios of prestige’—which allowed these families to gain and maintain their positions of influence. In combining Digital Humanities methods and sociological approaches, the article thus identifies salient structural features of Taiwanese elites which have rarely been highlighted and opens up new prospects for future research.

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