By Tong Lam
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Extra resources for A Passion for Facts: Social Surveys and the Construction of the Chinese Nation-State, 1900-1949
Competing regimes and political factions all advocated their own social categories and conceptions of society, drawing on a variety of intellectual traditions, including concepts of imperial statecraft and Neo-Confucian scholarship that Chinese elites thought they had rejected. Much of this diversity, needless to say, was replaced by the far more hegemonic and monolithic vision of the social world eventually installed by the new Communist regime after 1949. By revisiting the history of the Chinese social survey movement, this book is an attempt to unlock the black box of the production of social scientific knowledge.
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. mao zedong When Mao Zedong, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, wrote about the importance of “seeking truth from facts” in guiding the Communist revolution in 1941, he was describing a brief that was already widely shared by Chinese intellectuals from a broad political spectrum.
By looking at these different forms of resistance, I argue that, despite the declared ability of social science to render invisible social mechanisms visible and remake the social world in a logical and commonsensical order, the new census ultimately failed to make sense of many aspects of social and political life. Beginning in chapter 4, the focus shifts to the Republican period (1912– 49). In this chapter, I demonstrate how research institutes and their researchers constantly invoked the ideas of science and the nation in their search for a new epistemological foundation for political discourse and action.
A Passion for Facts: Social Surveys and the Construction of the Chinese Nation-State, 1900-1949 by Tong Lam