As soon as markets expanded, the merchant was unable to do business on his
own. Three institutions stand out, whose relations are often marked by both
cooperation and rivalry: brokerage; custom work, carried out by the merchant
manufacturer; and guilds or, more precisely, merchants' associations. This
chapter is devoted to the figure of the intermediary in the complicated
process linking production and trade. These intermediaries certainly
facilitate the circulation of goods and connect producers and markets. They
also engage in fraud and embezzlement. When did these institutions appear in
China? What were their functions and the legal regime they belong to? What
relations did they have with the administration and with peasants who became
artisans in the off-season? Did they contribute to a proto-industrial "cul
de sac" from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century?
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.