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A Passion for Facts: Social Surveys and the Construction of by Tong Lam PDF

By Tong Lam

During this path-breaking e-book, Tong Lam examines the emergence of the "culture of truth" in glossy China, exhibiting how elites and intellectuals sought to remodel the dynastic empire right into a countryside, thereby making sure its survival. Lam argues that an epistemological break free from conventional modes of figuring out the observable international all started round the flip of the 20th century. Tracing the Neo-Confucian university of evidentiary study and the fashionable departure from it, Lam indicates how, throughout the upward push of the social survey, "the truth" turned a uncomplicated conceptual medium and resource of fact. In targeting China's social survey move, a fondness for proof analyzes how info generated by means of quite a number study practices--census, sociological research, and ethnography--was mobilized by way of competing political factions to visualize, deal with, and remake the country.

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Additional resources for A Passion for Facts: Social Surveys and the Construction of the Chinese Nation-State, 1900-1949 (Asia Pacific Modern)

Sample text

Facts” are all the things that exist objectively, “truth” means their internal relations, that is, the laws governing them, and “to seek” means to study. We should proceed from the actual conditions inside and outside the country, the province, county or district, and derive from them, as our guide to action, laws that are inherent in them and not imaginary, that is, we should find the internal relations of the events occurring around us. And in order to do that we must rely not on subjective imagination, not on momentary enthusiasm, not on lifeless books, but on facts that exist objectively.

A British statistician, however, contended that it would be an exaggeration even to say that China had a population of three hundred million. 32 hundred million . . Readers! 1 hundred million. The discrepancy between our [lowest and highest] estimates alone has already exceeded two hundred million. You can forget about asking questions about such things as population density, gender ratio, or age distribution, for this country has no idea what its exact population is. ” The rest, he lamented, neither had knowledge of their own society nor themselves and were therefore helplessly plagued by superstitious ideas, wicked doctrines, and exploitation.

Other countries have statistics on the various kinds of social problems, but we do not have statistical data for even the most basic subjects of our country. . 52 Li’s personal experience resonated with those of other Chinese social scientists.

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