Rural transformation and the persistence of rurality in China


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The aim of this paper is to exam rural transformation and the persistence of rurality in China. Recent discussions on the "end of village" in China and policy suggestions that aligned to them have indicated that villages will not completely disappear unless institutional constraints are removed. Although terms such as "rural", "village" and "peasant" are used in these discussions, their meaning extends beyond the local rural landscape, their settlements and associated social status. This ambiguity not only shows the complexity of the Chinese countryside, but also calls for a clear definition of rurality. Inspired by Halfacrees framework, this paper unfolds the multiple dimensions of Chinese rurality. Using Xinxiang village as a case study, this paper has specifically investigated the persistence of two distinctive rural practices - self-reliance and the collective system - after the institutional reforms of corporatisation, conversion of the villagers committee to the residents committee; and conversion of household registration status from rural to urban. The continuity of these rural practices suggests that institutional attempts to modernize rural organization and urbanize the rural residents household registration status do not bring the Xinxiang neighborhood to the end of rurality. Unlike the abruptly termination of traditional practices during urbanization which suggested by modernization theory, the continuous of rural practices in China has asserted a very different experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)594-610
Number of pages17
JournalEurasian Geography and Economics
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics

User-Defined Keywords

  • rural transformation
  • rural space
  • rurality
  • Chinese countryside
  • institutional change
  • collective economy


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