Globalization and villagers’ autonomy in China:

an analysis of relationships in a particularistic society

This project is funded by the British Academy’s Small Research Grant (SG-40496) from 2005 to 2007, by Xiangqun Chnag at LSE

1. Account of research carried out

During fieldwork carried out for one and half months from July to September 2005, I followed up 32 sampled households, selected in the early 1990s for an ESRC project “Social support arrangements and transformation of local traditions”.  These households had been interviewed by me three times over the past years. I also interviewed different levels of officials from provincial, county, down to township, as well as village cadres, and collected a large amount of fieldwork data and documents.  On the same trip I organised two workshops in Shanghai and Nanjing. I shared my research work with Chinese scholars and experts, receiving much feedback and a large amount of comparative materials from them.  In November I submitted a paper “Changing relationships between the state and villagers in a Chinese village -- an analysis of lishang-wanglai” to The ICAS 4 Proceedings. This will be published by Amsterdam University Press, 2008.

In 2006 after initial analysis of my data I wrote a paper “Village cadres: shifting boundaries between ‘inner (nei)’ and ‘outer (wai)’ in a Chinese village -- An analysis of lishang-wanglai”, which has recently been accepted by China in an Era of Transition: Understanding Contemporary State and Society Relationships, eds. Reza Hasmath and Jennifer Hsu, University of Cambridge.

In January 2007 on my trip to Hong Kong for an “International Conference of Contemporary China Studies” I spent two further weeks in my fieldwork village, this time to conduct additional fieldwork on “Rural citizens’ autonomy in Miaogang Community of Qidu Township” to which my fieldwork village belonged. I also made visits to Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Shenyang. Thus I extended my fieldwork from village study to township level and urban communities. In April as one of the final results of the BA Small Research Grant I gave a seminar at LSE entitled “What Holds Chinese Society Together? -- a new perspective from a Chinese model of social relations and relatedness lishang-wanglai”.

2. Advances in knowledge or understanding resulting from the research

The advances in knowledge or understanding resulting from my BA Small Research Project can be seen as follows:

(1) China is an authoritarian state but with a flexible political system that allows negotiation between central and local authorities and institutions vertically, as well as between regions horizontally. I presented a paper “Two ‘Fei Xiaotong’s, two ‘state’s and one society”, in the “International Conference on Chinese Society and China Studies” in Nanjing, May 2007. The paper showed how in China there are two “Fei Xiaotong”s – one big and important one, consulted by government, aiming at enriching Chinese people, and another small and hardly-ever-mentioned interested in Chinese society, and also two states – one strictly controlling rural people’s private economic and spiritual lives, and another providing almost nothing from the state’s budget for social welfare and security systems in rural areas. I used the Taiji Diagram to represent the fact that these two divided persons or phenomena create a dynamic unity, using as illustration how Fei Xiaotong’s work on China’s Gentry and his work with the state on economic issues come together as a dynamic whole, and how the government-decreed destruction of the second storey of a private workshop to limit the workshop’s size in 1996, led to its rebuilding in 2003 according to the original design, but with new extended workshops in the surrounding buildings. This workshop which half pulled down then rebuilt larger than before, illustrates how in my fieldwork village opposing forces − in this case State policies pitted against the will of the villagers − has created opportunities and new growth.  

(2) At the root of the Chinese political system are individual, family, or institution based networks. “How can nearly 80 per cent of the Chinese population live in rural areas without any state welfare”? was the question explored by our previous ESRC social support project led by Prof Stephan Feuchtwang, which assumed that in rural areas informal and household-based social support networks perform the functions of social security. This was amply borne out by our research which covered 10 villages in five provinces. I am writing two books based on my PhD dissertation, Social Support Networks, Reciprocity and Creativity in a Chinese Village and Rules of Chinese Relatedness -- social, institutional and personal relationships in a Chinese Village. The Chinese version is also in progress. In addition to my doctoral study the BA Small Project lays more weight on political relationships within and beyond the village.  

(3) My data indicates that Western-style democratic systems and civil society cannot be directly translated into a Chinese context.  This idea requires further analysis of the data.   

(4) The “lishang-wanglai” model and its sub-model “individual, society and state trichotomy” challenges the “state/society dichotomous model”. My conference paper “Lishang-wanglai model of the relationship between individual, society (community, institutions) and state” was presented at an International Symposium “Symbiosis and harmony -- the development and the future of Chinese society”, at the 19th Conference of the Japanese and Chinese Sociological Association, Nihon Fukushi University, Nagoya, June 2007. This paper reviewed the “state/society dichotomous model” and studies of individual, society and state, and demonstrated the working of the sub-model “individual, society and state trichotomy” through analysis of the case of the resignation this year of the village’s Party Secretary.  

(5) In the global context relationships between Chinese people and the state, rural and urban, China and the rest of world could also be analyzed using the lishang-wanglai model. In 2006 I took part in an ESRC funded project “Social-cultural factors, ethnic minority entrepreneurial orientation and firm growth: a comparative study of Turkish and Chinese small firms in the UK”, led by Drs. Levent Altinay and Catherine Wang. Recently a joint small project with Prof Feuchtwang and Dr Chenggang Xu, “Value orientation in entrepreneurs and local officials, and its role in the interactions which affect small firm growth in the Yangtze River Delta, China”. won an LSE seed fund grant. These projects provide opportunities to examine the Chinese model of relations (lishang-wanglai) in business relationships in different settings.    

3. Synopsis of research for public dissemination

The British Academy Small Research Grant “Globalisation and villagers’ autonomy in China: an analysis of relationships in a particularistic society (2005-07)” looked at villagers’ autonomy in China (among many such studies over recent years) using the Chinese model of relationships “lishang-wanglai” derived from my PhD dissertation, based on a detailed ethnography. The following points emerged: (1) China is an authoritarian state but with a flexible political system that allows negotiation between central and local authorities and institutions vertically, as well as between regions horizontally; (2) at the root of the system are individual, family, or institution based networks; (3) Western-style democratic systems and civil society cannot be directly translated into a Chinese context; (4) the “lishang-wanglai” model and its sub-model “individual, society and state trichotomy” challenges the “state/society dichotomous model”; (5) in the global context relationships between Chinese people and the state, rural and urban, China and the rest of world could also be analyzed using the lishang-wanglai model. A further larger scale study is required.  

4. A seminar was given entitled 'What Holds Chinese Society Together?  -– A New Perspective from tne Chinese Model of Social Relations and Relatedness lishang-wanglai (礼尚往来)',  24th April (Tuesday), 2007, H102, Connaught House, LSE

全球化与中国村民自治

这个计划是由英国学院的小研究基金(SG-40496) 在2005 至 2007间提供资金

1. 研究的叙述

从2005年7月至9月进行的一个半月田野调查中, 我跟进了32个在1990年代初为一个“社会支持安排与本地传统转化”的ESRC 项目选出的样本家庭。这些家庭在过去的几年被我访问过三次。我也访问过从省, 县到镇不同层级的官员及乡村干部, 并收集了大量田野调查数据和文件。我在同一个旅程中于上海和南京组织了两个工作坊。我将我的研究工作与中国学者和专家分享, 从他们得到很多回应及大量的比较资料。在11月我向The ICAS 4 Proceedings.提交了一篇 “一个中国农村中政府与村民变化中的关系: 一个礼尚往来的分析”的文章。这将会在2008年由阿姆斯特丹大学出版社出版。

在2006年,经过我对资料作出的初步分析后,我写了一篇 “乡村干部: 一个中国乡村的‘内’与‘外’之间的移动中的界线 -- 一个[礼尚往来]的分析”的文章。这最近被剑桥大学出版,Reza Hasmath 及 Jennifer Hsuwhich 编辑的 China in an Era of Transition: Understanding Contemporary State and Society Relationships (中国在一个过渡时期中:了解当代国家与社会关系) 所接受。

2007年1月我去香港参加一个 “当代中国研究国际会议”的途中,我在我做田野调查的乡村待了两周。这次是为了对我做田野调查的乡村所属的“Qidu市Miaogang社区的农村公民自治”做进一步的田野调查。我也去了广州,深圳,上海和沈阳。我因此把我的田野调查从乡村研究伸展到市和城市社区。 在4月作为英国学院的小研究基金的其中一个最后结果,我在伦敦经济学院举行了一个名为“什么把中国社会凝聚起来? -- 从一个中国模式的社会关系和连结性[礼尚往来]的新观点”的研讨会。

2. 研究结果所提高的知识和理解

从下面可以看到我的BA小研究项目研究所提高的知识和理解:

(1) 中国是一个专政政府但有一个容许中央和地方政府及机构上下地磋商, 乃至地区之间横向地磋商, 有弹性的政治系统。我于2007年5月在南京举行的“中国社会和中国研究国际会议”上发表了一篇“两个'费孝通', 两个'政府'和一个社会”的文章。文章显示在中国怎样有两个“费孝通' – 一个是被政府咨询的大及重要的, 目标是使中国人富足, 而另一个小及很少被提及并对中国社会有兴趣的。也有两个政府 – 一个严厉地控制着农村人民的私有经济和精神生活, 而另一个几乎没有从政府的预算中对农村地区提供任何社会福利及保障系统。我用太极图去表示这两个分割的人或现象创造了一个充满活力的整体的事实,用来显示费孝通关于中国乡绅的工作和他与政府对经济问题的工作怎样结合为一个动态的整体,以及在1996年由政府颁布对私人作坊第二层的破坏,以限制作坊的规模,如何导致其在2003年根据原来的设计重建,但在周围的建筑有新的伸延作坊。这个被拉下了一半然后重建得比以前更大的作坊显示了在我进行田野调查的村庄中的反对势力 - 在这个案例是国家政策和村民的意志 -怎样创造了机会​​和新的增长。

(2) 中国政治系统的根是以个人, 家庭或机构为基础的网络。"接近中國人口80%生活在農村地區的人口怎样可以在沒有任何國家福利下生活“?是我們以前由王斯福教授領導的ESRC社會支持項目探讨的問題 。它認為農村的非正式及以家庭為基礎的社會支持網絡发挥了社會保障的功能。這是从我們涵蓋五个省10個农村的研究得出的结果。我正在根据我的博士論文寫兩本書,社會支持網絡,一条中國乡村的互惠和創造力及中國關聯性規則 - 一個中國村莊的社會,體制和個人關係。中文版也在进展中。除了我的博士研究, 學士小項目将更多重点放在乡村範圍以內和以外的政治關係。

(3) 我的数据显示西方式的民主体系及公民社会不能被直接地移植到中国的环境中。这个看法要求对数据的进一步分析。

(4) “礼尚往来” 模式及其子模式“个人,社会和国家三分法”挑战“国家/社会的二元模式”。我在2007年6月名古屋日本福祉大学第19届日本和中国社会学学会会议”的一个国际研讨会“共生与和谐 - 发展和中国社会的未来"中提出会议论文“个人,社会(社区,机构)和国家之间的关系的礼尚往来模式"。本文回顾了“国家/社会的二元模式”和个人,社会和国家的研究,并通过分析今年村委书记辞职的个案展示了 “个人,社会和国家三分法”子模型的运作。

(5) 在全球背景下中国人民与政府,农村与城市,中国与世界其他国家之间的关系也可以用礼尚往来模式来分析。我在2006年参与了一个由Levent Altinay博士和Catherine Wang博士领导和ESRC资助的项目“社会文化因素, 少数民族企业家取向及企业增长: 一个英国的土耳其和华人小企业的比较研究"。最近一个与王斯福教授和Chenggang Xu博士的联合小项目 “企业家与地方官员的价值取向及其对长江三角洲小企业的增长的影响”得到一个LSE种子资金资助。这些项目提供机会去探讨在不同环境的商业关系中的中国关系模式(礼尚往来i)。

3. 作为大众传播的研究概要

英国学院小研究基金“中国的全球化与村民自主": 一个特殊性社会的关系分析(2005-2007年) 使用了一个根据详细的民族志和在我的博士论文的基础上发展出来的中国的关系模式“礼尚往来”看中国的村民自主(在最近几年很多这样的研究中)。以下的观点出现: (1) 中国是一个专政政府但有一个容许中央和地方政府及机构上下地磋商, 乃至地区之间横向地磋商, 有弹性的政治系统。(2) 系统的根是以个人, 家庭或机构为基础的网络; (3) 西方式的民主体系及公民社会不能被直接地移植到中国的环境中; (4) '礼尚往来'模式及其子模式'个人,社会和国家三分法'挑战'国家/社会的二元模式'。(5) 在全球背景下中国人民与政府,农村与城市,中国与世界其他国家之间的关系也可以用礼尚往来模式来分析。进一步更大型的研究是必须的。

4.  2007年4月24日(星期二)于伦敦经济学院 H102, Connaught House 举行了一个名为''什么把中国社会凝聚起来?-– 从一个中国模式的社会关系及连结性[礼尚往来]的新角度'的研讨会。

 

(韩志豪译)

 

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