In East Asia, a characteristic that began to surface in the 18th century Joseon and Qing, was the strengthened power of the leaders (in Qing’s case the Emperors, and in Joseon the Kings) as well as a more singular and centralized order. In terms of their trying to conceptualize the general public as the basis for governance, some may say there were indeed commonalities between the 18th century and the 15th, but there were also certain differences, and in that regard the 18th century could be perceived as (instead of as merely belonging to the premodern age) the beginning phase of a new sort of ‘modern period.’
First, formed at this time both in Joseon and Qing was the ‘private sector,’ where personal desires and pursuits of them were all recognized and advocated. Second, the government’s centralized management of administrative ruling, and a policy to levy taxes purely in either money or other designated materials (and have them submitted in this form as well) was established, while economic activities, regardless of the conductors’ social classes, became more than vibrant. Third, although the public was yet to become purely ‘self-determining’ political entities, they were growing up at least enough to resist or even fight with the government, and found themselves on the verge of becoming political masters in their own right.
All these phenomena are worth examining, as they had never been that much significant in previous time periods.