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A Case Study of Historiography of Event: ‘1840’-A Significant Year for the Incorporation of China
Unformatted Document Text:  1978; MacFarquhar, 1980: 71; Metzger, 1977: 149; Morishima, 1982; Sun, 1993: 215, 217). Classically, the tradition-modernity ideal-typical polarities were also applied to interpret the economic development and social transformation in various societies, including modernized ‘latecomers’ in the Sinic world of East Asia. These tradition-modernity ideal-typical polarities were elaborated as: undifferentiated homogeneity-differentiated heterogeneity (Spencer), Gemeinschaft-Gesellschaft (Tönnies), status-contract (Maine), mechanic solidarity-organic solidarity (Durkheim), sacred-secular (Becker), primary group-secondary group (Cooley), agrarian-industrial, and pattern variables (Parsons), etc. According to Levy, a latecomer’s traditional social structures can be dissolved by a ‘universal social solvent’-exogenous modernization (Levy, 1972). When a latecomer encounters with carriers of modernization (no matter through trade, military conflict, economic assistance, missionary, or cultural and educational exchange, etc.) she would be challenged immediately by superior modern technology and science. The resistance, acceptance, and introduction of modern technology and science would cause disintegration of a latecomer’s traditional society and culture, like what happened to China, and require further introductions of modern institution and legal system, modern market mechanism, and modern cultural value, etc. (especially European/American ones) to form a new functional integration of Parsons’ structural imperatives (economic, social, political, and cultural ones) of a latecomer’s society. As Wittfogel and Eisenstadt pointed out, there only existed the cyclical and ‘secondary’ social change but never happened the permanent and ‘primary’ one in traditional China (Wittfogel, 1958; Eisenstadt, 1963). The Chinese economy merely expanded to an incredible size and would approach Mark Elvin’s ‘high-level equilibrium trap’ at the end of the nineteenth century if there were no exogenous impacts from the Western countries. Chinese modernization was an exogenous modernization, which brought about permanent instead of cyclical social change. China encountered with modernity in the form of various impingement of the West. An exogenous modernization could be a ‘defensive modernization’ (C. Blake’s term), such as Chinese and Japanese modernization. The challenge of Western ‘strange technology’ manifested by British gunboats knocked the door of Chinese Empire in the 1840s and 1850s, and pushed what W. W. Rostow called the ‘reactive nationalism’. The response had developed through three stages. The first response was the Western Affairs Movement (yanwu yundong)/the Self-strengthening Movement (zichang yundong) of the technical level. The second response was Reform and the Chinese Republic, modernization of the institutional level. The third response was the New Culture Movement of the behavior/ideological level, which contributed to the introduction of the ideologies of liberalism and radicalism/socialism into China. - 2 -

Authors: Shih, Miin-wen.
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1978; MacFarquhar, 1980: 71; Metzger, 1977: 149; Morishima, 1982; Sun, 1993: 
215, 217).
Classically, the tradition-modernity ideal-typical polarities were also applied  to 
interpret   the   economic   development   and   social   transformation   in   various 
societies,   including   modernized   ‘latecomers’  in   the   Sinic   world   of   East  Asia. 
These   tradition-modernity   ideal-typical   polarities   were   elaborated   as: 
undifferentiated   homogeneity-differentiated   heterogeneity   (Spencer), 
Gemeinschaft-Gesellschaft  (Tönnies),   status-contract   (Maine),   mechanic 
solidarity-organic   solidarity   (Durkheim),   sacred-secular   (Becker),   primary 
group-secondary   group   (Cooley),   agrarian-industrial,   and   pattern   variables 
(Parsons), etc.
According to Levy, a latecomer’s traditional social structures can be dissolved by 
a   ‘universal   social   solvent’-exogenous   modernization   (Levy,   1972).   When   a 
latecomer   encounters   with   carriers   of   modernization   (no   matter   through   trade, 
military   conflict,   economic   assistance,   missionary,   or   cultural   and   educational 
exchange,   etc.)   she   would   be   challenged   immediately   by   superior   modern 
technology and science. The resistance, acceptance, and introduction of modern 
technology   and   science   would   cause   disintegration   of   a   latecomer’s   traditional 
society   and   culture,   like   what   happened   to   China,   and   require   further 
introductions of modern institution and legal system, modern market mechanism, 
and modern cultural value, etc. (especially European/American ones) to form a 
new functional integration of Parsons’ structural imperatives (economic, social, 
political, and cultural ones) of a latecomer’s society.
As   Wittfogel   and   Eisenstadt   pointed   out,   there   only   existed   the   cyclical   and 
‘secondary’ social change but never happened the permanent and ‘primary’ one 
in  traditional  China  (Wittfogel,  1958;  Eisenstadt,   1963). The  Chinese  economy 
merely expanded to an incredible size and would approach Mark Elvin’s ‘high-
level   equilibrium   trap’  at   the   end   of   the   nineteenth   century   if   there   were   no 
exogenous   impacts   from   the  Western   countries.   Chinese   modernization   was   an 
exogenous   modernization,   which   brought   about   permanent   instead   of   cyclical 
social   change.   China   encountered   with   modernity   in   the   form   of   various 
impingement of the West.
An  exogenous   modernization   could   be   a  ‘defensive  modernization’  (C.   Blake’s 
term),   such   as   Chinese   and   Japanese   modernization.  The   challenge   of  Western 
‘strange technology’ manifested by British gunboats knocked the door of Chinese 
Empire   in   the   1840s   and   1850s,   and   pushed   what   W.   W.   Rostow   called   the 
‘reactive   nationalism’.   The   response   had   developed   through   three   stages.   The 
first   response   was   the   Western   Affairs   Movement   (yanwu   yundong)/the   Self-
strengthening   Movement   (zichang   yundong)   of   the   technical   level.  The   second 
response   was   Reform   and   the   Chinese   Republic,   modernization   of   the 
institutional   level.   The   third   response   was   the   New   Culture   Movement   of   the 
behavior/ideological   level,   which   contributed   to   the   introduction   of   the 
ideologies of liberalism and radicalism/socialism into China.  
- 2 -


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