Revisiting a Dramatic Triangle: The State, Villagers, and Social Activists in Chinese Rural Reconstruction Projects

Stig Thøgersen


As part of the movement to “construct a new socialist countryside”, Chinese officials and social activists are experimenting with transforming rural social and economic relations. They often draw on discourses dating back to the Rural Reconstruction Movement of the 1920s and 1930s, which saw urban intellectuals making similar efforts to modernize the villages and their inhabitants. This paper analyses the different types of relationships between the state, social activists, and villagers in a number of rural reconstruction projects. The state is still the major player in this field, but traditional top-down procedures are often perceived to be unproductive when it comes to micro-level community building, so state actors are forced to find allies among village elites and social activists.

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