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Social Hierarchies And The Formation Of Customary Property Law In Pre-Industrial China And England, Taisu Zhang Jan 2014

Social Hierarchies And The Formation Of Customary Property Law In Pre-Industrial China And England, Taisu Zhang

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Comparative lawyers and economists have often assumed that traditional Chinese laws and customs reinforced the economic and political dominance of elites and, therefore, were unusually “despotic” towards the poor. Such assumptions are highly questionable: Quite the opposite, one of the most striking characteristics of Qing and Republican property institutions is that they often gave significantly greater economic protection to the poorer segments of society than comparable institutions in early modern England. In particular, Chinese property customs afforded much stronger powers of redemption to landowners who had pawned their land. In both societies, land-pawning occurred far more frequently among poorer households ...