China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This session introduces a comparative approach to the study of bureaucracy and officialdom in East Asia by bringing together researchers examining the career dynamics of government officials in historical and contemporary China and historical Korea. Their papers investigate the role of qualifications and other features of individual and family background on the chances of appointment, promotion, and exit. They also assess how the posts in which officials served shaped their subsequent promotion chances, with emphasis on whether service in specific posts were especially likely to lead to promotion or eventual attainment of high office. For their analysis, the papers deploy a variety of novel methods to newly constructed large, individual-level, longitudinal databases of employment records of civil servants from the different settings. Collectively, results from the papers will illuminate continuity and change in the career dynamics of officials China from the Qing to the present. The results will also delineate similarities and differences in the dynamics of official careers in Qing China and Joseon Korea, where civil service exams played a key role in the recruitment of officials. More generally, the results and discussion will help define an agenda for future research on bureaucracy and officialdom that moves beyond studies of specific countries at particular points in time to emphasize comparison across time and space.