Law as a Mirror of Culture and Ideology: An Examination of China’s Family Law During the Qing Dynasty (1636-1911) and the Republican Era (1912-1949)
Researcher ORCID Identifier
Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
© 2022 Anna Theil
For all that is known about the laws of China during the Qing dynasty (1636-1911) and China during and after the Communist Revolution (1949), there is somewhat of a historiographical gap when it comes to the evolution of China’s legal systems during the Republican era (1912-1949), particularly with respect to the laws that pertained to family. Following the fall of the Qing dynasty, the Qing Code (which had long been ubiquitous to China’s later imperial age), underwent no less than four official transformations within just a few decades. What accounted for those changes? External pressures and domestic conflict had led to China’s weakened position on the global stage. Foreign influence opened the floodgates to imported pedagogic content: why had China been unsuccessful in its international dealings, and what made the West so powerful?
To some, the culprit was clear. It was China’s overreliance on a philosophy that it should have long since outgrown. This was Confucianism, a system of ethical teachings that had become so thoroughly embedded in the Chinese collective consciousness that it had become the backbone of all society. It dictated what moral behavior was, and it delineated the structure of civilization: the ideological heart of China was the family, composed of a kinship structure with a clear patrilineal hierarchy. These values were reflected in the Qing Code. So, as the Qing Code was discarded, and the laws changed, what did this mean for family as an institution in China? This thesis aims to examine that very question.
Theil, Anna, "Law as a Mirror of Culture and Ideology: An Examination of China’s Family Law During the Qing Dynasty (1636-1911) and the Republican Era (1912-1949)" (2023). Scripps Senior Theses. 2176.
This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.