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From Elite to Mass Communication

Author: ZhangXianZhong
Tutor: NanBingWen
School: Nankai University
Course: History of Ancient China
Keywords: Ming Dynasty Commercial Publishing Elite culture Mass Communication
CLC: G206
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2010
Downloads: 466
Quote: 0
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The invention of woodblock printing changed the mode of book production by copying and transcribing in the past, greatly accelerated the spread of culture, and provided the technical basis for the commercialization of publishing. In Song and Yuan Dynasties, commercial publishing developed significantly. Since mid-Ming, with the unprecedented prosperity of the commodity economy, publishing reached its peak. The bookstores, as the main body of commercial publishing became the most important force. in addition to traditional classical books, they also published a great number of popular literary works and books on life, technology and medicine. The changes of the sorts of books published broke the monopoly of knowledge by elite culture. Press was entertained with the nature and the function of mass communication. Once publishing enters into the mass media stage, its driving force for the culture and the social changes is incalculable.With the increasing development of the imperial examinations, the number of the students who took them went up largely, as a result of which the examinations tended to be stereotyped. Driven by commercial profits, bookstores compiled and published a large number of examination books, which deviated students from hard study of the classics to simply reciting and guessing the possible contents of the exams. But it did break the state of the "culture first", collapsing the ideology dominated by Cheng and Zhu, and promoting the ideology diversity.During the course of the rise and development of the commercial publishing in Ming Dynasty, many conservative scholars showed contempt for the bookstores and the books they produced, regarding them as "shooting profits only" and considering their popular drama and fictions as something unpresentable; But there were also some scholars who were in favor of the commercial publishing. Influenced by the tide of commodity economy, their way of life, attitude toward life, values and aesthetic trends changed greatly and converged with civil class gradually. They began to rectify the "popular literary", and emerged as new readers with the new civil class. Some scholars even joined in the business of the commercial publishing, compiling and proofreading a large number of popular books, which helped to eliminate the boundaries between popular culture and noble literary works, and to promote to the ideological and cultural diversity. Since pirated commercial reproduction, careless collation, and so on, existed, many scholars in Qing Dynasty and Minguo held a negative attitude towards Min publications, viewing that "Ming people liked book-publishing and yet it usually led to the death of the books". until today, a few scholars still hold this point of view.Although the commercial publishing in Ming Dynasty developed unprecedentedly, which had a great effect on the ideas, cultures and social changes, there is no specific research works on the publishing industry of Ming Dynasty in our country right now. And the related papers are also less. Though some of works involve the publishing business in Ming Dynasty, mostly from the perspective of literature, philology, editing and publishing, rather than from the theme of commercial publishing, whence, lacking historical and general care. The historians are absent in this field of research basically. The systematic study of the commercial publishing in Ming Dynasty and its affect on the culture and social changes not only has high academic value but also can provide a reference and inspiration for today’s publishing industry in how to realize industrialization and in how to play its role in the ideological, cultural and social reforms.This article refers to the "new cultural history" paradigm to make a comprehensive analysis of all relevant documents, based on the traditional methods of history. The role played by the commercial publishing in Ming Dynasty in social and cultural changes is also explored in this paper by using communication, economics, and sociological knowledge, in addition to the display as objective as possible the fact of commercial publishing in Ming Dynasty. The article is divided into seven chapters not including Conclusion and Appendices:Chapter I:Introduction. Concise introduction to the cause of the research, the definition of commercial publishing, the current research status, research paths and methods, innovations and shortcomings. ChapterⅡ:Brief introduction to the publishing industry in Song and Yuan Dynasties. In order to offer a reference to the publishing industry in Ming Dynasty, this chapter succinctly described the background of the rise of the publishing industry in Song and Yuan Dynasties and its performances, based on which an evaluation is made, thinking that the commercial publishing in Song were still oriented by elite culture, and that extremely unbalanced regional distribution in the development of the "public nature" featured the commercial publishing in Yuan. There still existed many negative factors that hindered the sustainable development of publishing industry. All these made it difficult for the publishing industry in Song and Yuan to keep a sustainable prosperity, let alone industrialization. Its role in pushing the society forward was extremely limited.ChapterⅢ:The flourishing of the publishing industry in Ming Dynasty, the background and the causes for that. Outlines the prosperous state of Ming’s commercial publishing, its background and reasons for that, viewing that the development of commodity economy, the commercialization of books, the loosening of Ming’s cultural tyranny policy, the active thinking, the rise of towns in Late Ming and the forming of the consuming society, all led to the prosperity of the Ming commercial publishing.ChapterⅣ:Ming’s commercial publishing centers. Relates respectively the four largest book production centers--Jianyang, Nanjing, Suzhou and Hangzhou, and analyzes their characteristics, from which we can further get to know the prosperous state of Ming’s publishing industry.ChapterⅤ:The main sorts of publications in Ming. Analyzes the publishing status, the compilation and characteristics of the popular literature books, examination books,the practical books on daily life, children’s primer and the main readers. Interprets the time features these books reflected. The "The publishing of the books for imperial examinations" section explains the effects of the publishing of these books on the imperial examinations, ideas and cultures in mid and late Ming, and explores the status the second and the third time imperial examinations occupied in the books for imperial examinations, clarifying some misconceptions existed in the academic circle. ChapterⅥ:The operation of the commercial publishing in Ming Dynasty. Analyzes the book production mode, scale, publishing cycle, topic selection, contributions soliciting and editing. Also analyzes the book marketing strategies and market awareness of Ming’s book sellers from the four aspects of product development, pricing, and sales channel model, marketing and promotion by using the 4P theory of the modern marketing.ChapterⅦ:The correlation between the commercial publishing and the social, ideological and cultural changes in Ming Dynasty. Ming’s publishing industry played a very positive role in China’s cultural and social changes. First, it broke the monopoly of the elite culture, promoting the downwardness of the knowledge and the spread of mass culture. Second, it led to the forming of the "public space", in some degree, breaking the absolute control of the society by the Government which made a room for social development, showing that China was transferring from traditional society to modern society. Third, Ming’s commercial publishing hastened the rise of the Humanism in Late Ming. It provided space for Humanism thought, which greatly promoted the spread of enlightenment thought.In the Conclusion, the role of Min’s commercial publishing in offering reference and inspiration for today is further interpreted, based on a summary and supplement.

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