Government Propaganda and the Organization of Rural China
Bislev, Ane and Stig Thøgersen (eds.): Organizing Rural China, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 51-68, 2012
22 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2012
Date Written: November 8, 2012
This chapter examines the changes in the organization of rural China from a perspective of organizational telos and the authoritative narration of three major roles: the "centre", "local cadres", and "the peasants." It argues that the centre has made use of at least two very different narrative strategies to organize rural development since Reform and Opening - and even before. One strategy, which is called "rule by division", entails a verbal alliance of the centre with the peasants against "several" local cadres responsible for rural instability. This strategy enables the centre to shed blame for systemic problems on its local agents, but harms peasant-cadre relations and turns local officals against the centre. Another strategy, named "strength by unity", imagines rural China as an organizational whole. The centre, local cadres, and the peasants are imagined as integral parts of a comprehensive modernization project led by the centre. This strategy avoids the risks inherent in playing peasants against local cadres, but ascribes responsibility for development bottlenecks to the centre. In order to illustrate this argument, the chapter comparatively analyses the central government's narration of peasant-cadre relations in the two most recent rural development macro policies: The Rural Tax and Fee Reform (nongcun shuifei gaige) and the Socialist New Countryside (shehui zhuyi xin nongcun). The analysis will rely on the qualitative evaluation of relevant speeches, newspaper articles and official documents as well as a quantitative keyword analysis of the fulltext data base of the People's Daily (Renmin Ribao).
Keywords: Socialist New Countryside, Rural Tax and Fee Reform, Tax-for-Fee Reform, China, Rural Reform
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