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POLI 338 - Lecture: Historical Development (Mar. 26)

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Political Science
Course Code
POLI 338
Juan Wang

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Mar. 26 – Chinese Historical Development I. Needham's puzzle − puzzle: why was Chinese scientific and technological development so advanced until the end of the Song dynasty, and why did it get overtaken by the West afterwards? − dominant answer (Elvin): − reduced demand for innovation − large population and labour-intensive production resulted in high man-to-land ratio − this reduced incentives to invent labour-saving technology, because labour was so cheap − counterargument (Lin): − reduced supply for innovation − against Elvin: − changes in man-to-land ratios to not correlate with changes in labour-saving innovation over time − differences across regions of China reflect this discrepancy − differentiates between technological and scientific innovation − the former is based on experience; the latter is based on experimentation − China led in early innovation because its high population gave it a greater chance for experience-based technological breakthroughs − however, these innovation has dim
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