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A Historical Perspective on the Social Control of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to A.D. 220): An Analysis on the Evidences of the Bamboo Slips and Wooden documents Excavated from Zhangjia Shan 張家山 and Ejina Banner 額濟納旗

Principal Investigator

LAI Ming Chiu

Funding Source

RGC Competitive Earmarked Research Grant
(2007/2008)

Abstract of Project

        Han rulers succeeded in maintaining a vast and stable empire by creating an effective system of social control, which constituted a powerful bond between the empire and its citizens, and create a sense of solidarity among its people. This project will study the social control institution implemented by the Han Empire by examining its legal institution to reveal its social function for setting the norms of conduct for individuals and regulating their social behavior. Laws and decrees of the Han Empire were essential in developing social consensus and maintaining social unity. The author will investigate the distinctive institutions related to the rule of the Han government by scrutinizing two newly excavated documents, namely the laws and decrees of the bamboo slips and wooden documents from Zhangjia Shan 張家山, and the administrative archives excavated in Ejina Banner 額濟納旗. This study will greatly enhance our understanding of Han China in the following significant aspects: 1) the strategy of developing system of social control is tremendously important in establishing an unified empire, 2) the social control system created social solidarity and made a social bond between the empire and its citizens, 3) building a harmonious and stable society by implementing a set of laws and orders.

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