The scholar-bureaucrats’ awareness of “joint-governance” in the Song Dynasties

International Social Science Journal (Chinese Edition)

No.3, 2020


The scholar-bureaucrats’ awareness of “joint-governance” in the Song Dynasties



HE, Zhongli


The supreme rulers of the Song Dynasties (960-1279) advocated government by civilians (wenzhi). As the imperial examination system (IES, keju) improved, there came an unprecedented expansion of intelligentsia. Most of the scholar-bureaucrats (shidafu) who walked into official career through IES were the elites of the intelligentsia. With an awareness of “joint-governance of the country by the monarch and the scholar-bureaucrats,” they had strong people-oriented thought and feelings of home and nation, which played an important role in the improvement of government and social stability. Long influence of Confucianism, fair selection of bureaucrats through IES, care for the successful candidates (juren) from the provincial IES, as well as the emperors’ respect to intellectuals’ human dignity, should be seen as the key reasons for the awareness of “joint-governance” among scholar-bureaucrats. The emphasis on intellectuals strengthened cultural soft power of the dynasties and promoted the formation of the value of loyalty to the throne and patriotism, which not only prevented civil unrest, but also helped resistance to external aggressions, and thus lengthened the life of the Song Dynasties.