How Rice Farming Shaped Culture in Southern China

Talhelm, T., & Oishi, S. (2018). How Rice Farming Shaped Culture in Southern China. In A. K. Uskul & S. Oishi (Eds.), Socioeconomic Environment and Human Psychology (pp. 53–76). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

35 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2018

See all articles by Thomas Talhelm

Thomas Talhelm

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Shigehiro Oishi

University of Virginia - Psychology

Date Written: June 20, 2018

Abstract

We present a detailed theory linking southern China’s history of rice farming to its modern-day culture. We explain how rice was farmed traditionally, what makes it different from other major staple crops, and why these differences could shape culture. Next we review empirical evidence that people who have grown up in the rice areas of China have different relationship styles and thought styles from people in the wheat areas. We also discuss why the rice theory is not environmental determinism—rice does not automatically lead to collectivism. Finally, we ask whether modernization is signaling the death of rice culture or whether cultures rooted in historical subsistence style can persist even after less than 2% of the population actually farms for a living.

Keywords: culture, rice theory, agriculture, farming, China, India

Suggested Citation

Talhelm, Thomas and Oishi, Shigehiro, How Rice Farming Shaped Culture in Southern China (June 20, 2018). Talhelm, T., & Oishi, S. (2018). How Rice Farming Shaped Culture in Southern China. In A. K. Uskul & S. Oishi (Eds.), Socioeconomic Environment and Human Psychology (pp. 53–76). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3199657

Thomas Talhelm (Contact Author)

University of Chicago Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.chicagobooth.edu/faculty/directory/t/thomas-talhelm

Shigehiro Oishi

University of Virginia - Psychology ( email )

United States

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