Shanghai Splendor: Economic Sentiments and the Making of Modern China, 1843-1949

By Wen-Hsin Yeh | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
The State in Commerce

In the 1920s a new elite emerged in Shanghai. Some, educated overseas and recipients of advanced degrees, presided as bankers, industrialists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, accountants, deans, and so forth. Others, seasoned with long years of experience in the city, served as managers, shareholders, traders, distributors, advertisers, agents, and brokers. They formed companies, launched firms, established schools, ran businesses, hired trainees, signed contracts, dealt with foreign partners, formed civic associations, and engaged in an expanding range of social, political, and charitable activities. They cut across conventional lines of social divisions, built a dense network of relationships, and interacted with each other in multiple capacities. These interactions included joint investment projects, overlapping board memberships, duplicated club associations, and strategic marriage alliances, in addition to school bonds, provincial ties, and even political party affiliations. The YMCA was one such networking “hub” for the Westernized and the affluent. So was the Chinese Society for Vocational Education, which enabled networking for the lower middle class while facilitating elite social enterprises. Networking activities filled the after-work hours of a large number of the “gowned” (desk workers) and opened up a sense of the city beyond the shop floors and office desks. For the elite such networks made it possible to mobilize significant amounts of resources on the basis of shared information and ideas. With the weakening of the state during the Republican era, the expanding net-

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Shanghai Splendor: Economic Sentiments and the Making of Modern China, 1843-1949
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Material Turn 9
  • Chapter 2 - The State in Commerce 30
  • Chapter 3 - Visual Politics and Shanghai Glamour 51
  • Chapter 4 - The Clock and the Compound 79
  • Chapter 5 - Enlightened Paternalism 101
  • Chapter 6 - Petty Urbanites and Tales of Woe 129
  • Chapter 7 - From Patriarchs to Capitalists 152
  • Epilogue - The Return of the Banker 205
  • Notes 219
  • Bibliography 259
  • Glossary 285
  • Index 293
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