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Week 6 Lecture Notes

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EH207: Topic 6 - Commercial Organization in Transition

Topic 6: Commercial Organization in Transition State, Society and Market

State and commercial organization developed alongside each other in the longrun Guilds were an important social organization o John Major encountered problems in the Lower Yangzi with them o Silk weaver guild destroyed Chen Qiyuan's factory in Guangdong
 Guilds overlapped with lineage The problem was not that the State caused actively damaged prosperity o The bigger problem was they didn't do enough

The Problem of Traditional Chinese Commercial Organization

"Chinese people are like loose sand" (Sun Zhongshan) o Founding father of Modern China o Like many revolutionaries, Sun spent a lot of time overseas The lack of social cohesion meant revolution and modernization were difficult Civic identity was important, but was not organized nationally o Social organization was organized along family lines o Migrant merchants were attached to their hometowns not their trading city Guild and other organizations were "feudal powers" o Searched for monopoly and rents
 A fundamental feature of guilds o Often overlapped with lineage and family Weber - A sociologist who invested the Chinese culture and lineage Secret societies were another important social group o Dynastic leaders were weary of them Commerce as a profession was ranked bottom, below handicrafts o In contrast to the West, where mercantilism was fundamental to Western ideology
 E.g. East India Company o Lack of commercial and contractual law made it difficult for large scale firms to become established What were the problems of family firm?
o There was no distinction between public and private o Corruption and nepotism o Difficult to transcend beyond your individual households o Capital accumulation and pooling of capital was limited to close circles and your lineage

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