Social Transformation & the 'San Nong' Problem in Contemporary China
A talk by sociologist Cao Jinqing, sponsored by the UCLA Asia Institute
Monday, November 07, 2005
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
6275 Bunche Hall
Professor Cao will discuss issues involving Chinese rural society and the impact those issues have on overall social transformation. He will take up four broad themes: (1) The starting point of contemporary China's social transformation: the abolishment of rural collectivization; (2) the conflicts between the so-called household responsibility system and urbanization and industrialization; (3) the effects of urbanization and industrialization on rural capital and labor (especially rural women); and (4) the problem of "san nong" (literally, "three agrarian": that is, broadly, issues related to agricultural, the countryside, and farmers).
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Cao Jinqing is a professor in the School of Public and Social Management, East China University of Science and Technology (in Shanghai). Professor Cao's best known (indeed, famous) publication is Along the Yellow River (2000), which by some accounts has been the best-selling work of non-fiction in China in this century. The book has been translated into English, and many reviews are available on the Web.
In a review of the English-language edition, Rachel Murphy (a Fellow at Pembroke College, Oxford University) declares:
"Cao's research method inevitably invites comparisons with that of China's pioneering rural sociologist, Fei Xiaotong. Both scholars share a conviction that rural China must be understood on its own terms. Each is sceptical about the value of armchair theorising and is committed to careful first-hand empirical research as a way of generating explanations and concepts relevant to the Chinese situation.
"Cao's careful survey of the countryside presents us with a particularly intriguing puzzle. Farmers have undoubtedly experienced very real improvements in their living standards since the communes were dismantled and land was parcelled out to households in the early 1980s. This reform enhanced incentives for farmers to produce and led to substantially better harvests. Farmers have also been pursuing off-farm earning opportunities on an unprecedented scale injecting huge amounts of cash into the rural economy. Yet there has been widespread and mounting unrest.
"Cao's reflections centre on varied aspects of the problem of modernisation, arguing that “genuine modernisation” is essential if the simmering dissent in the countryside is to abate. Cao explores three themes central to the problems of modernisation in rural China."
Dr. Murphy's full review is available on line (click here).
For more information please contact
Sponsor(s): Asia Institute