Debates - Guilds

Is there a linkage to be found between the old guild system and  contemporary trade unions?


(China only)

For China, a larger debate currently centers on the transition from merchant guilds to Chambers of Commerce (Wang Xiang, 1999; Chen Zhongping, 2001; Peng Nansheng, 2003;  Zhu Ying, 2008) with a strong emphasis on the political perspective. Chen Zhongping (2001) has shown that trade associations on one hand demanded more formal rights and legal security for their business transactions and their associations; this went hand in hand with demands for more political participation, and finally, the breakdown of the monarchy. These processes in the first decade of the twentieth century, the so-called 'new policies', all but overlooked in the earlier phase of anti-imperialistic historiography from the 1950s to the 1980s, increasingly raise interest among historians who wish to look at the foundations of capitalism in China in the twentieth century. The interesting point in these developments is the interaction between government and private enterprises. The transition from craft guild to workers' union at this moment seems a more offbeat topic.



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