‘iClan’: The Chinese Ritual Economy in the 21st Century

31 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2018

See all articles by Man Guo

Man Guo

Harbin Institute of Technology

Carsten Herrmann-Pillath

Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies

Date Written: April 22, 2018


In recent debates about the nature and dynamics of Shenzhen development, many observers notice the resilience of urban villages in new metamorphoses. One core phenomenon is the revival of traditional kinship structures, the lineages. Lineages have become important actors in the urban economy, via real estate, rooted in the original ownership of rural land rights, and being networked into other sectors, such as services. In this working paper, we explore the implications for the study of Chinese kinship and kinship ritual in general, based on one case study, the Huang in the original single-lineage Xiasha and Shangsha villages. One important aspect is the internationalization of kinship organization, which was emphasized also in earlier studies on the metamorphoses of traditional kinship, based on research in Hong Kong (James Watson, Selina Chan and others). Today, this includes the virtual space of the internet. Based on this case, we analyse modern Chinese kinship in terms of the concepts of ‘cultural descent’ and ‘nested descent’ and we argue that this were also characteristics of the traditional ‘ritual economy’ in Late Imperial times. Hence, in this view the conventional narrative of a transition from tradition towards modernity needs thorough reconsideration, with many implications for improving our understanding of the Shenzhen phenomenon.

Keywords: Chinese Kinship, Lineages, Shenzhen, Cultural Descent, Huang, Ritual Economy

JEL Classification: Z13

Suggested Citation

Guo, Man and Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten, ‘iClan’: The Chinese Ritual Economy in the 21st Century (April 22, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3166765 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3166765

Man Guo

Harbin Institute of Technology ( email )

92 West Dazhi Street
Nan Gang District
Harbin, heilongjiang 150001

Carsten Herrmann-Pillath (Contact Author)

Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies ( email )

Nordhäuserstr. 74
Erfurt, 90228

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