Exploration on the construction of Chinese economics system in early modern times: based on the perspective of research content

ZHANG Shen1 XIN Yaoyao2,3

(1.Institute of Economics, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Shanghai, China 200020)
(2.Department of Economics, Shanghai Party Institute of CPC, Shanghai, China 200233)
(3.School of Economics, Fudan University, Shanghai, China 200433)

【Abstract】The construction of Chinese economics began in early modern times. Some scholars discussed its system construction then, however, the current academic circle has not paid enough attention to this field. For the first time, this paper systematically investigated the exploration and construction of the research content of Chinese economics in early modern times. By focusing on the achievements which have theoretical consciousness and are in line with the understanding of Chinese economics at that time, this paper mined the first-hand literature in-depth. It classified them into four categories, namely, those with several theoretical and practical issues as the main components, those with philosophy-theory-policy as the main components, those referring to Das Kapital system as the main component, and those referring to the method of quartering in classical economics as the main component. Based on this classification, this paper analyzed opinions put forward by scholars with different theoretical backgrounds from the late 1920s to the 1940s. This paper mainly drew the following conclusions. First, a basic framework for the research content of Chinese economics has been established in the early modern context through such exploration, covering a series of economic issues which include the historical evolution of Chinese economy, the nature of Chinese society, the operation of China’s economy, China’s production relations, industrialization and rural economy construction, fiscal and financial reforms. Second, an important logic on system construction embodied in this process is that based on absorbing the existing economic theories, the key point is to deeply explore the unique problems in the historical context of China’s economy and society transforming from traditional to modern ones. Third, the early modern exploration failed to build a recognized mode of the research content which could be followed. The direct reason is that there was a lack of theoretical abstraction and refinement of the economic issues. The fundamental reason is that early modern China was short of a social background of basic stability and owned a backward economic research level. All these kept it away from the establishment of a mature and systematical economics. The academic value of this paper could be concluded in three aspects. First, it proposes a research framework based on system construction, especially on the research content, and forms a new perspective to integrate the works of early modern Chinese economics. Second, it excavates a series of first-hand historical documents, thus expanding the literature in this field. Third, it systematically shows the achievements and progress of early modern Chinese economics on the research content, and provides implications for accelerating the construction of the socialist political economics with Chinese characteristics.

【Keywords】 Chinese Economics; construction of system; research content;

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ISSN:1001-9952

CN: 31-1012/F

Vol 46, No. 09, Pages 108-122

September 2020

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