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“Ordering the Age”: Terms of Political Discourse in the Imperial Statecraft Compendia (1827–1903)

Stupperich, Gesa

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This dissertation examines the use of four of ubiquitous polarities in the political-administrative discourse of the Qing dynasty as represented in the Imperial Statecraft Compendium (Huangchao jingshi wenbian 皇朝經世文編, hereafter HCJSWB), printed in 1827, and its sequels. The compendia appeared between 1827 and 1903 and include writings on theoretical and practical aspects of government and administration from all reigns of the Qing dynasty. The polarities that this dissertation focuses on, ren-fa, ming-shi, gong-si and li-yi, have been a part of the political-administrative discourse since at least the Warring States period (475–221 BC) and still play a role in the political discourse of the People’s Republic of China. The authors of the writings included in the statecraft compendia employed the polarities to structure their arguments by addressing aspects of administrative problems that are in tension and must be brought into balance. The polarities served to formulate questions such as the following. What is the optimal balance between local discretion and central regulation within the bureaucracy, and how can it be established? How to ensure that officials fulfill their duties? Can civil servants be motivated with the prospect of private benefit while still ensuring that they decide in the public interest in their day-to-day administration? How to extract enough revenue to maintain the functional capacities of the state without burdening the people excessively? These questions are questions that have no universally valid answers, but must be answered in the context of concrete circumstances.

Item Type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Kurtz, Prof. Dr. Joachim
Date of thesis defense: 23 July 2018
Date Deposited: 24 May 2019 07:10
Date: 2019
Faculties / Institutes: Philosophische Fakultät > Institut für Sinologie
Subjects: 950 General history of Asia Far East
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