The present article will analyze some of the major currents in the study of Chinese culture in terms of functioning communities. We will turn, first, to works of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, showing why these accounts, no matter how well done, were not community studies. We shall then turn successively to the pioneer scientific work on Chinese communities, the social surveys, and to the several published community studies which are largely anthropological in their organization and execution. The second section of this paper deals with the methodology of modern community studies in China and discusses problems of field method and of topical organization and interpretation. In a third section the emphasis rests upon subdisciplinary specializations, e.g., economic, sociological, psychological and so on. In this case, the term “subdisciplinary” is used because, with certain notable exceptions, the specialist work has been carried on within a broader anthropological approach. In this section we will attempt to outline what has been done, and to point out the most significant gaps that remain.

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