Updated in 6/30/2013 9:17:46 PM      Viewed: 364 times      (Journal Article)
Economy and society 21 (4): 430-52 (1992)

China's rural reform: the state and peasantry in constructing a macro-rationality.

K S Chang
As a critique of the popular perspective on China's rural reform centered on microinstitutional problems of collective farming such as work incentive and monitoring, this paper places an alternative emphasis on the distinct organizational characteristics of the peasant family in production, distribution, and welfare. What the Chinese state saw in family-based peasantry was not a typical market-oriented private economy operating mainly in pursuit of short term profits, but a multipurpose, morally governed unit in which the rural population maintains stable work relations, pursues diverse entrepreneurial activities, and satisfies basic subsistence needs; i.e., a organizational unit which could take over most of the social and economic functions of the pre-reform collective. In a sense, China's rural decollectivization has been a process of deceptively transferring the burden of absorbing and supporting the huge rural surplus labor to individual peasant families for whose economic activities the state is not directly responsible.
DOI: 10.1080/03085149200000019      ISSN: 0308-5147