Modern China's Network Revolution: Chambers of Commerce and Sociopolitical Change in the Early Twentieth Century

Modern China's Network Revolution: Chambers of Commerce and Sociopolitical Change in the Early Twentieth Century

Modern China's Network Revolution: Chambers of Commerce and Sociopolitical Change in the Early Twentieth Century

Modern China's Network Revolution: Chambers of Commerce and Sociopolitical Change in the Early Twentieth Century

Synopsis

Chambers of commerce developed in China as a key part of its sociopolitical changes. In 1902, the first Chinese chamber of commerce appeared in Shanghai. By the time the Qing dynasty ended, over 1,000 general chambers, affiliated chambers, and branch chambers had been established throughout China.

In this new work, author Zhongping Chen examines Chinese chambers of commerce and their network development across Lower Yangzi cities and towns, as well as the nationwide arena. He details how they achieved increasing integration, and how their collective actions deeply influenced nationalistic, reformist, and revolutionary movements. His use of network analysis reveals how these chambers promoted social integration beyond the bourgeoisie and other elites, and helped bring society and the state into broader and more complicated interactions than existing theories of civil society and public sphere suggest. With both historical narrative and theoretical analysis of the long neglected local chamber networks, this study offers a keen historical understanding of the interaction of Chinese society, business, and politics in the early twentieth century. It also provides new knowledge produced from network theory within the humanities and social sciences.

Excerpt

When I first began the study of the more than 200 chambers of commerce that popped up from 1902 to 1912 in the Lower Yangzi region around Shanghai, I approached it as an Organizational analysis. I concerned myself primarily with the chambers’ reformist, revolutionary, nationalistic, and business activities in this key economic region of modern China. However, over the course of the last decade, the analytical focus of my work broadened: the research now spans a longer historical period of late Qing and early Republican China and covers the expansion of the chamber networks and their sociopolitical influence beyond the Lower Yangzi region. From this broader perspective, the development of the Chinese chambers from this region marked not only the emergence, for the first time in China’s millennial history, of the legally sanctioned associations (faren shetuan). Their network development from the local to the national level also represented revolutionary change in the sociopolitical relations of the most populous country of the world.

The inspiration for such a network analysis came initially from my reflections following an academic conference and from a personal experience during subsequent air travel in China. in July 2000 I traveled from Montreal to Hong Kong to present at the Third International Conference on Chinese Business History. the theme of the meeting was relations between chambers of commerce and business networks (wangluo) in modern China, and this naturally prompted me to consider revising my work on chambers of commerce from a similar angle. However, the network approach still seemed . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.