From Heaven to Earth: Images and Experiences of Development in China

By Elisabeth Croll | Go to book overview

Chapter 2

State policies

Revolution, responsibility and reform

The first reform signifying the movement away from revolution and laying the foundation for subsequent reforms was the redistribution of responsibility for production from the collective to the peasant household in what virtually amounted to a reversal of the original process of collectivisation. In defining and evolving new institutions and balances in the distribution of collective and domestic responsibilities appropriate to a socialist contract promoting economic development and equity, China first attracted attention because of the scale and scope of the collective process, the means by which it reduced the responsibilities of the individual peasant household for production and reproduction and the redefinition of the household in relation to other economic and socio-political institutions. It was the continuing search for appropriate collective and domestic institutions beneficial to production, consumption and welfare which lay at the basis of its cycles of distribution and redistribution of responsibility, first in the name of revolution and then of reform.

The term ‘responsibility’, perhaps more than many other terms, is chameleon-like in that with a variety of incorporated meanings its specificity is mostly captured by the attributes of the speaker and by context. Responsibility may be acquired or required, and however it might be allocated, assumed or imposed, appropriated or volunteered, its meanings can be variously defined as claim, obligation, duty or gift. That is, responsibility involves an exchange that may simultaneously endow, enact, enable and entitle and which is rarely equal in authority or permanent in form and content. Rather, its devolution or distribution involves agency and the exercise of power with shifting contests and alliances and arenas demanding constant negotiation and renegotiation between agents with differentials in authority, resources and sanctions between object and subject. Responsibility is also about ability to respond, and it is these complex notions of responsibility and its distribution and redistribution between state, the collective, the community or the village and the family, the household or the individual which lie at the basis of development strategy. In China, successive policy shifts in the distribution of responsibility

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From Heaven to Earth: Images and Experiences of Development in China
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xvii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Imaging Heaven 3
  • Part I - Reform: Household and Village 15
  • Chapter 2 - State Policies 17
  • Chapter 3 - Peasant Experiences 36
  • Part II - Readjustment: the Village 95
  • Chapter 4 - Resource Management 97
  • Chapter 5 - Information Networked 116
  • Chapter 6 - Income Generation 135
  • Part III - Readjustment: the Household 161
  • Chapter 7 - Aggregation 163
  • Chapter 8 - Continuity 181
  • Chapter 9 - Discontinuity 198
  • Conclusion 213
  • Chapter 10 - Living the Earth 215
  • Appendix 1 226
  • Appendix 2 292
  • Notes 299
  • Index 311
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