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Socio-Economic Environment and Human PsychologySocial, Ecological, and Cultural Perspectives$
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Ayse K. Üskül and Shigehiro Oishi

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190492908

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190492908.001.0001

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How Rice Farming Shaped Culture in Southern China

How Rice Farming Shaped Culture in Southern China

(p.53) Chapter 3 How Rice Farming Shaped Culture in Southern China
Socio-Economic Environment and Human Psychology

Thomas Talhelm

Shigehiro Oishi

Oxford University Press

We present a detailed theory linking southern China’s history of rice farming to its modern-day culture. It explains how rice was farmed traditionally, what makes it different from other major staple crops, and why these differences could shape culture. Next, the chapter reviews 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. It also discusses why the rice theory is not ecological determinism—rice does not automatically lead to collectivism. Finally, it asks 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.

Keywords:   culture, rice theory, agriculture, farming, China, rice farming, southern China, ecological determinism, modernization

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