This period is marked by a certain balance between hierarchic state authority and the autonomy of local aid groups. On the one hand, the Neo-Confucian foundations of Vietnamese society favoured the maintenance of a strong hierarchy, where the decisions of men and the elderly were not to be questioned. Yet at the same time, neighbourhood associations were formed informally and voluntarily and elected representatives who would negotiate certain issues with the authorities. These “non-governmental organizations” could provide economic assistance to the population in times of crisis, or else limit their roles to the organization of events (Lux and Straussman, 2004).
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