During the past quarter century Jonathan Unger has interviewed farmers and rural officials from various parts of China in order to track the extraordinary changes that have swept the countryside from the Maoist era through the Deng era to the present day. A leading specialist on rural China, Professor Unger presents a vivid picture of life in rural areas during the Maoist revolution, and then after the post-Mao disbandment of the collectives. This is a story of unexpected continuities amidst enormous change. Unger describes how rural administrations retain Mao-era characteristics - despite the major shifts that have occurred in the economic and social hierarchies of villages as collectivization and "class struggle" gave way to the slogan "to get rich is glorious." A chapter explores the private entrepreneurship that has blossomed in the prosperous parts of the countryside. Another focuses on the tensions and exploitation that have arisen as vast numbers of migrant laborers from poor districts have poured into richer ones. Another, based on five months of travel by jeep into impoverished villages in the interior, describes the dilemmas of under-development still faced by many tens of millions of farmers, and the ways in which government policies have inadvertently hurt their livelihoods.
Section I. The Countryside Under Mao 1. State Power and the Villages 2. The Rural "Class" System in the Mao Era 3. The Cultural Revolution in the Villages 4. Ideology and the Rural Work Community: The Utopian Dream and Its Demise Section II. The Post-Mao Countryside 5. Disbanding Collective Agriculture 6. Leaving the Villages 7. The Emergence of Private Entrepreneurship and New Classes 8. Local Governments and Private Enterprise: A Case Study 9. Poverty in the Rural Hinterlands: The Conundrums of Underdevelopment 10. The Kaleidoscopic Politics of Rural China 11. Assesing the Post - Mao period Bibliography Index