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

By Elisabeth Croll | Go to book overview

Chapter 3

Peasant experiences

Household and village development

If at the macro-level, reform, as had revolution before it, became synonymous with state-planned economic and socio-political development, national policies of reform remained—as does perhaps all development rhetoric—a somewhat idealised, generalised and opaque set of prescriptions which were communicated through the administrative hierarchy to the village. How such state policies, be they of revolution or reform, define, modify or translate into village practice is a subject of abiding interest to social scientists. To provide some insights into village policy, programme and experience of reform, and to take account of particularities of place, occasion and circumstance, nine case studies have been assembled from diverse regions of China to document, quantitatively and qualitatively, village and household practices to do with land, labour and income-generation.


HENAN, 1987

The first village studied, Village A in Luoning county, Henan province, was located 90 kilometres south of the famed historical city of the thousand Buddhas, Luoyang. The village was set upon highland slopes, with snow reminiscent in freezing mid-February of European alpine regions, with conifers, stone bridges and bouldered stream beds; without snow the higher slopes were denuded to a bare brown and yellow flattened peneplain with high plateaux and valleys stretching as far as the eye could see. The small village was perched on the edge of highlands near the small township settlement whose sparse market lined the only winding tarmac road with dirt and walking tracks to the right and to the left leading up to highland villages and small hamlets of but two to three or four households. Among the various villages and hamlets studied, one had thirteen households, whose clay and brick houses were variously perched on or caved in the steeply climbed slopes. There were no village-owned buildings, enterprises or amenities of any kind, with local opportunities for employment outside of the family farm rare.

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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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