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Imposing harmony in East Asia : a comparative study of the Early Modern community compact system in Chosŏn Korea and Ming China Khalaf, Ali

Abstract

This much needed study on Chosŏn Korea (1392-1897) and Ming China (1368-1644) aims to realize two objectives. First, it provides a general understanding of the community compact organizations in both Early Modern East Asian states around the 16th-17th centuries. For this purpose, a coherent structure is adopted where the explanation of the development of community compacts in each region is followed by a review of the different aspects related to this institution. These various elements of the community compacts are categorized into four facets; administrative, judicial, welfare, and the instillation of morals. These four facets also serve as a comparative framework for the second, and principal, objective that is that of a comparative study of the community compact system between Ming China and Chosŏn Korea, meaning an examination of the similarities and differences between both states. To obtain the most representative sample for this research, what we understand to be the most influential compact models in both societies are used for comparison. By doing so, this work reaches a number of conclusions pertaining to the particularities of Ming and Chosŏn social, political and cultural realities which are reflected in the organization and the content of their respective community compact models and examples. Generally speaking, this will permit us to see that the Ming government had a more hands-on approach concerning the management of its localities while Chosŏn’s socio-political system implied, in effect, a higher degree of shared authority with its local elites.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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