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Journal Article

What Do Jokes Reveal about Trust in Ming Work Relations


Schneewind,  Sarah       
Department Artifacts, Action, Knowledge, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Max Planck Society;

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Schneewind, S. (2022). What Do Jokes Reveal about Trust in Ming Work Relations. Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture, 9(2), 367-396. doi:10.1215/23290048-9965645.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000C-B15F-2
This article looks at jokes in a collection dating to about 1610 from the perspective of occupational sociology of the Chicago school. Sociological concepts such as technique, object of technique, and guilty knowledge suggest aspects of the lives of ordinary people who are harder to find in the historical record than the educated elite. The jokes illuminate some of the tensions in the careers of metalworkers, vendors, carpenters, actors, transport workers, barbers, couriers, pawnbrokers, and gatekeepers to suggest further avenues for historical research. Trust emerges as a complex issue. The professional relations suggest a more plebian, but not simple, outlook on the fundamental Confucian value of trustworthiness.