REVIEW ESSAY: BUILDING ON THE LADDER OF SUCCESS: THE LADDER OF SUCCESS IN IMPERIAL CHINA AND RECENT WORK ON SOCIAL MOBILITY
Author: Waltner, Ann
Source: Ming Studies, Number 17, Fall, 1983 , pp. 30-36(7)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:One of the most distinctive features of traditional Chinese society is that it was governed through a bureaucracy recruited by civil service examinations. The examinations, which tested the candidate on his acquaintance with and interpretation of classical texts, were open to all but a small minority of the population categorized as ?base??actors, sons of prostitutes, and the like. The examinations, in theory at least, offered the humblest peasant the opportunity to rise and join the ranks of the ruling classes. Success in the examinations meant first of all access to office. But a man who had been successful in the exams, who had obtained a civil service degree, attained more than the potential for bureaucratic office. The degree itself was a mark of prestige and a talisman of power in traditional Chinese society. The proposition that the examinations in fact served as a conduit of social mobility?that the myth of social mobility was paralleled by the reality of social mobility?has been examined by a number of scholars over the past twenty years.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1983-01-01