This project will investigate how the differentiation of the literati-gentry influence the reception of citizenship idea in Chinese society during the late Qing dynasty and the early Republican period. It was the first time during the 1890s to the 1920s that citizenship, a Western idea, was imported into Chinese society in which the literati-gentry played as the main carrier strata of this reception process. Nevertheless, during those decades, Chinese society went through a crucial change named “the rise and fall of gentry-power”—a shift in public opinion from “revive gentry’s power in order to establish citizen rights” to “fight against evil gentry’s power in order to protect citizen rights”. It is not merely a historical coincidence but a sociological puzzle: how and why did “the rise and fall of gentry-power” and the reception of citizenship idea happen together. On the one hand, the literati-gentry was divided into different sub-types—local gentry, merchant gentry, and militant gentry—who played their respective roles superseding the literati-gentry’s place in the reception of citizenship idea. Meanwhile, the literati-gentry not only gradually faded out from the stage of modern Chinese history since the internal differentiation happened, but also crucially initiated the reception by playing a “pre-citizen” role, a forerunner of modern citizen in Chinese society. Following with the “pre-citizen” role, there were “citizen-to-be” role (e.g. the youth, the students, and the women) and “neo-citizen” role (e.g. the freelancer, the professional, and the intellectual) to compete the comprehensive establishment of modern citizen idea. Barrowing the analytic framework from citizenship scholar E. F. Isin and cultural sociologist J. C. Alexander, this research project views the reception of citizenship as a kind of “social performance”, employs the cultural pragmatics approach to analyze both the conceptual and institutional scholarships in the field of modern Chinese history, and investigates how the differentiation of the literati-gentry, including the three main sub-types (local gentry, merchant gentry, and militant gentry) and the various interactions between them and the popular, influences the reception of citizenship idea in Chinese society during the late Qing dynasty and the early Republican period.
|Effective start/end date||8/1/17 → 7/31/18|
- social performance
- cultural pragmatics