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The Art of Being GovernedEveryday Politics in Late Imperial China$
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Michael Szonyi

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691197241

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691197241.001.0001

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A Younger Brother Inherits a Windfall

A Younger Brother Inherits a Windfall

Conscription, Military Service, and Family Strategies

(p.25) Chapter One A Younger Brother Inherits a Windfall
The Art of Being Governed

Michael Szonyi

Princeton University Press

This chapter opens with the story of the Zheng family, whose creative solutions to the challenge of choosing a family member to serve in the army introduces sophisticated strategies through which families in the military system addressed their obligations to provide labor to the army. Their regulatory position was straightforward—the Zheng family had to provide one soldier for military duties—but their actual situation could be complex. The Zheng family developed elaborate strategies to make their obligations more predictable, to reduce their risks, and to distribute the benefits of their registration as widely as possible while minimizing the costs. The chapter explores how families responded to various implications of registration, and how the social implications of the various meanings of registration changed over time. It focuses on the strategies registered households came up with using the organizational and cultural resources they had at their disposal, and how their actions in turn affected that repertoire of resources.

Keywords:   Zheng family, military system, registration, social implication, army

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