As Usual Each Manage Your Own Property: The State, Property, and Social Conflict in Eighteenth Century China


"During the eighteenth century the population of China tripled, reaching 300 million by 1800, while the level of technology of China's overwhelmingly agrarian economy remained unchanged. Economically, this unprecedented level of population growth increased the relative value of land and created incentives for more stringent enforcement of property rights in land. Psychologically, historic notions of property and land were profoundly challenged as the concept of land as alienable commodity supplanted the longstanding concepts of land as inviolable patrimony. Socially, the pressure to alter property rights triggered a spurt of violent conflict over property rights which ultimately subsided with the development of new institutional arrangements. This paper analyzes 301 violent disputes which occurred in Guangdong, Sichuan, and Shandong provinces for two time series 1750-53 and 1774-75, enables us to see regional variation between three distinctly different provinces. The three provinces varied greatly in their levels of economic development and type of agriculture, and these differences were reflected in the regional and temporal patterns of violent disputes."n



conflict--history, property rights--history