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How Rice Farming Shaped Culture in Southern China

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Document pages: 35 pages

Abstract: We present a detailed theory linking southern China’s history of rice farming to its modern-day culture. We explain how rice was farmed traditionally, what makes it different from other major staple crops, and why these differences could shape culture. Next we review empirical evidence that people who have grown up in the rice areas of China have different relationship styles and thought styles from people in the wheat areas. We also discuss why the rice theory is not environmental determinism—rice does not automatically lead to collectivism. Finally, we ask whether modernization is signaling the death of rice culture or whether cultures rooted in historical subsistence style can persist even after less than 2 of the population actually farms for a living.

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