This project began in 1995 with the fieldwork for my dissertation at Duke University. Over the course of eight years in the field, as well as in academia, I have incurred the debt of many who have helped me along the way, not the least so because this book has gone above and beyond what my dissertation started out as.
Nan Lin steered me into the China field as a first year Ph.D. student at Duke and has continued to encourage and advise me throughout this project and my career. He gave me what every graduate student needs but is not always so lucky to get: a mentor. His inclusion into my institute at Academia Sinica has meant that our relationship has only grown stronger since my graduation, from which I have benefited tremendously in learning and collaboration with him.
During my research trips to China, I incurred many debts to many people. My relationships with many of these contacts have spanned the better part of a decade. Ye Endian, of the Quanzhou Maritime Museum, opened many doors for me in the Jinjiang area. Lin Shuiqiang, a retired government official and well respected local gentry, welcomed me into his home when we first met and continued to accommodate me throughout my fieldwork for my dissertation and follow-up visits thereafter. Lu Hanlong, director of the Institute of Sociology at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, cooperated with Nan Lin on a village survey in suburban Shanghai and arranged my field research in several Shanghai villages. Wang Yuhua, a non-traditional female scientist, bridged me into the village in Wujiang, and facilitated connections and information collection over the past several years.
Jean Oi and Andrew Walder offered valuable comments and criticism on a book chapter drawn from this study. This book has greatly benefited from their insights and expertise. Discussions on related issues in China studies and economic sociology with Xueguang Zhou also helped me through different stages of writing this book. Thanks also go to my past teachers and current colleagues at Academia Sinica, among whom Chih-Ming Ka and Ying-Hwa Chang are most representative and supportive. Thanks also go to my colleagues in the sociology institute at Academia