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Forging Reciprocal Connections between Private Profit and Public Good in Hydraulic Reform in the Lower Yangzi Delta, 1520s-1640s

image of T'oung Pao

This article focuses on the “beneficiary-pays principle” in hydraulic discourse and the process through which it was put into practice from the 1520s to the 1640s in the Lower Yangzi Delta. It investigates the roles of the hydraulic reformist elite and like-minded officials in the formation of the new hydraulic order. It also demonstrates that the implementation of the beneficiary-pays principle was instrumental in redefining the division of responsibility between the government and the people and in building a reciprocal connection between the pursuit of private gain and the fulfillment of the public good. Furthermore, it shows that after the general application of this principle became a shared view, the government and the people used it to solve disputes and defend their rights. The article concludes that the new order was not achieved solely by coercion – policy deliberation and persuasion were also significant in the realization of the beneficiary-pays principle.

Cet article s’intéresse au principe suivant lequel les travaux doivent être “à charge du bénéficiaire” dans le discours hydraulique et à la manière dont il a été mis en pratique dans le bas Yangzi des années 1520 aux années 1640. Le rôle de l’élite réformiste et des fonctionnaires partageant les mêmes idées dans le domaine de l’hydraulique est exa­miné. L’article démontre que la mise en œuvre du principe en question a été ­importante pour la redéfinition du partage des responsabilités entre le gouvernement et la population et pour la mise en place d’une relation de réciprocité entre la poursuite des intérêts privés et celle du bien public. Il montre aussi qu’une fois acceptée par tous, l’application généralisée du principe a servi au gouvernement et aux particuliers à résoudre leurs conflits et à défendre leurs droits. En conclusion, l’ordre nouveau ainsi mis en place n’a pas été le résultat de la seule contrainte: le débat et la persuasion ont tenu une place significative dans la réalisation du principe “à charge du bénéficiaire”.

Affiliations: 1: National Tsing Hua University

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/content/journals/10.1163/1568532220120001
2012-01-01
2016-12-08

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