The basis of Chinese society was the family. A Chinese family consisted of grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren, daughters-in-law, and servants. Family ties were very close. Every member of the family was duty-bound to safeguard the family honor and prestige. If a son did something wrong, he and the family will lose face, that is, disgraced.
The parents were the absolute masters in the family. They arranged the marriage of the children and decided what professions they would take.
Disobedience to parents was regarded as a serious sin. If the father died, the oldest son took his place. A family with many children was believed to be blessed by the gods.
Women had few rights. Their place was at home. Their duties were to serve the men, to take care of the children and to attend to household work. They also worked in the fields like male laborers.
The economic life in Old China centered on agriculture. About 80% of the Chinese people were peasants who lived in villages and toiled daily in their small farms. Those without farms were engaged in various industries such as bakery, carpentry, brickmaking, weaving, and retail merchandising. (Grousset, p. 99)
Guilds existed in China long before they were established in Medieval Europe. A guild was an association of men engaged in an occupation.
Hence, there were merchant’s guilds, baker’s guilds, musicians’ guilds, and carpenters’ guilds. The guilds fixed the prices of goods, determined wages, and working conditions, and looked after the welfare of the members.
In matters of religion, the Chinese were very practical. They were deeply concerned about the gods, religious dogmas, and the future life. Heaven to them was abstract thing. They simply worshipped their ancestors and gods and paid homage to heaven and earth, mountains in other objects of nature. They were free from religious bigotry. They were free from being Confucians, Taoists and Buddhists at the same time. (Labourette, p. 56)
Political life in Old China was regulated by Confucian precepts. At the head of the empire was the Emperor, who was regarded as the "Son of the Heaven." He ruled by the "mandate of heaven", that is, by permission of the gods. If he became corrupt, he immediately lost the mandate of heaven, and the people can overthrow him by revolution and place another ruler on the throne. (Labourette, p. 54)
Below the emperor was a bureaucracy consisting of ministers, viceroys and governor