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2. REGIONAL MODERNIZATION IN CHINA: PROJECT CONCEPT AND ORGANIZATION Chang P1eng-yuan, Academia Sinica, Taiwan "The Study of Regional Modernization in China" is a joint project of the research fellows of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, and the teaching staff of the National Taiwan Normal University. Its purpose is to study regional development along the sea coast and the Yangtze Valley during the period from the middle of the nineteenth century to the fourth decade of the twentieth century. The areas under study cover thirteen provinces and the city of Shanghai. Areas of study and staff: Kwangtung, by Wang P'ing Fukien, Chekiang and Taiwan ! (~ "'f ' . ~ if\ by Li Kuo-ch i Kiangsu, by Wang Shu-huai J. ~f ~ Shantung, by Chang Yfi-fa St ~ ~-=k Chihli (or Hopei), by -;}+ ~~ 1t, Lin Ming-te "MODERNIZATION" Manchuria, by Chao Chung-fu Hupei, by Su Yiin-feng ~ \.t *" Hunan, by Chang P'eng-yuan ~l ~~ (I) 0 ~ ')~ Szechuan, by LU Shih-chiang ~ ~ ,~ "r;t; -~ .#shanghai , by Chen San-ching ~ - 'I The term "modernization" has been widely used for decades without a commonly recognized definition. Sociologists, economists and political scientists have their own particular perspectives. Among the variables used to define modern!-· zation in recent decades are such dichotomies as status-contract, folk-urban, sacred-secular, particularism-universalism. Talcott Parsons and Neil Smelser are two of the most well-known contemporary theorists who have systematically put together these variables. Social scientists at first divided societies into traditional and- modern forms, but these categories were often criticized as arbitrary . The term "ideal Type" was borrowed from Max Weber as a solution to this problem, and the concept of social change as a process was emphatically stressed. Political scientists not only differ from the sociologists, they are also divided among themselves. The two main schools of thought concerning the concept of modernization emphasize either the expansion of political participation, or stress institutionalization. Economists, on the other hand, take industrialization as the sole variable of modernization. The reason for this emphasis is simply viewing modernization from the perspective of economic development. Human beings lived at a level of mere subsistence in traditional periods, and living standards have been improved. This is why economists insist that the main aim of development is continuous economic growth, and that this goal can be reached only through industrialization . Since the approach of social scientists to modernization is so different from one another, what definition should we historians adopt? To begin to answer this question, we must first admit that we have borrowed quite a number of ideas from various social scientists. We study political participation and institutionalization as political scientists do. We also trace the traditional system from which changes took place. Local political characteristics which usually influenced the trend of modernization are included in our observation. When we study economic development, industrialization is the main focus. An industrialized country generally grows from an agricultural tradition. China was an agricultural country. What were her real agricultural conditions? We agree that the south grows rice " 3. while the north produces wheat, but there must be local features which may be local economic crops of importance. We try to survey these differences. We study communication facilities such as railways, and navigation. Commercial activities, of course, are also aspects of our observation. We study social structure from the point of equality, and literacy from the ideal of universal education. The change of family system and social customs are all within the scope of our study. PERIODIZATION Why did we begin in 1860 and end in 1916 as the first stage of our study? There were three reasons to select 1860 as a beginning: first, China entered the world of international diplomacy in this year with the establishment of the Tsungli Yamen. This was an unprecedented decision. The Chinese had always looked down on all foreigners with whom they came in contact. After the establishment of the Tsungli Yamen, the imperial government began to move toward the concept of equality in international relations. Second, in the year of 1860, China signed the Treaty of Peking first with Britain and France, and later with Japan and other countries. In this treaty China agreed...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5065
Print ISSN
1521-5385
Pages
pp. 2-5
Launched on MUSE
2021-05-25
Open Access
No
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