New Thoughts on the Social Forms of Ancient China (from the Zhou to Qing Dynasties)

In: Journal of Chinese Humanities

Abstract

The entire course of ancient Chinese history has centered on state power, which dominated and shaped the basic picture of social history. The key to Chinese state power has been the state ownership of land, and based on this we can divide the social forms of ancient China into four successive periods: the period of yishe 邑社時代 or village societies (Western Zhou Dynasty and the Spring and Autumn Period); the period of official communal system 官社時代 (Warring States Period to Qin Dynasty to the early Han Dynasty); the period of half official communal system 半官社時代 (Han to Tang Dynasty); and the period of state vs. individual peasants 國家個體小農時代 (Song to Qing Dynasty).

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