This article is based on the study result of the reformative theory of social class system late in Joseon. There have been many studies on the reformative theory of social class system conducted individually by many Joseon-pragmatism scholars includin ...
This article is based on the study result of the reformative theory of social class system late in Joseon. There have been many studies on the reformative theory of social class system conducted individually by many Joseon-pragmatism scholars including Yoo Hyung Won, Lee Ik, Ahn Jung Bok, Yoo Soo Won, Hong Dae Yong, Park Ji Won, Park Je Ga, Jung Yak Yong, Choi Han Gi and etc. However, most of such studies have not shown remarkable study results on the reformative theory of social class system. Based on what I have studied so far, it is the biggest core of the reformative theory of social class system late in Joseon that the paradigm changed from the idea of justice to the idea of social duties. That is, the Joseon-pragmatism scholar group tried to leap off the theory of social class based on the idea of justice that divided the social class into noble class, middle class, low class and humble class, which were very important in the social class system of that period so that Joseon society could stand on the four-class system based on the idea of social duties for scholar class, farmer class, worker class and merchant class. Those who claimed that the four-class system should be established based on the idea of social duties for scholar class, farmer class, worker class and merchant class argued the capability based system in which four-class based job division should be established; elementary education chance should be provided equally to every person; and the jobs of scholar/farmer/worker/merchant should be selected for their study capability.
Especially in Joseon society, there was another big discrimination which was based on hometown in addition to social class. People in that time were largely discriminated in accordance with their social classes and hometown also in terms of their rights and duties. People of that time were strictly discriminated widely through all their lives including land ownership, chances of application for government jobs, national defense, taxation, punishment and etc. Such social class system partially contributed to keeping the public order of a bureaucrat-based nation and securing the stability of the society. As such discrimination was getting deeper, however, the gap between the governor class and controlled class was getting bigger and then the social class system played as a toxin that caused social disputes and obstructed the social and economical growth.
Whereas, the Joseon-pragmatism scholars divided the social discrimination system into social class system of noble/middle/low/humble-class based on 'Justice' and four-class system that was a job-separation system for scholar/farmer/worker/merchant based on 'Duties'. They partially agreed to the social class discrimination based on 'duties' because scholar/farmer/worker/merchant also were 'duties' that were defined based on not 'social class' but knowledge and talents. Therefore, they claimed, 'such duties should be fulfilled by upper and lower classes in combination'. However, the 'Upper and Lower' did not mean the hierarchy of scholar and normal people. As there should be upper/lower relation in any society and class, the upper/lower relation itself would not break the equality of duties. The Joseon-pragmatism scholars set the division standard of scholar/farmer/worker/merchant as 'talents and knowledge' and claimed that there should not be any obstruction for even farmers' and merchants' children to become ministries if they had talents and knowledge and there should not be any problem for even officials' children to become home servants. For, they believed that the social duties should not be succeeded and it should be decided by each one's own capability.