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Cost-Benefit Analysis and Harmony and Resentment in History: The Trajectory of Social History of Lake Xiang, Xiaoshan County

Special Issue
Hang QIAN (Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences)
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A basic problem in the history of Xianghu (Lake Xiang), Xiaoshan county, Zhejiang, has been the challenge of establishing stable, complementary and mutually beneficial relationships between those benefitting from and those harmed by water conservancy measures. The local government was generally unable to guide those affected to a common understanding aimed at the maintenance of the community. In consequence, both public welfare and private interests were never adequately explicit or “reasonable”, but remained obscure. To varying degrees, a similar problem can be found in many other settings in Chinese society in history. The fundamental problem is whether, in order to project the interests of the community or the majority, it is reasonable to harm the interests of the individual or the minority? Is it reasonable that the benefits of the whole or the majority should be placed above those of the individual or the minority. Can a positive co-existence be negotiated? It is perhaps impossible ever to fully resolve this question. In consequence, difficult relationships were sometimes unavoidable.

Journal of History and Anthropology