The Social Turn of Rural Transformation in the Early Period of Modern China

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.2, 2017


The Social Turn of Rural Transformation in the Early Period of Modern China



Yang Rui


The theory and practice of village transformation took an important turn in the Early Period of Modern China. By the 1920s, rural issues had become a core subject for academic discussion and social transformation. Different schools’ approaches to and programs for rural problems overlapped, but each had its own distinctive features. Adherents of Western functionalism took individual villages, townships or counties as units to be totally transformed; the Chinese Association of Agricultural Science Societies and rural economists who had studied in Japan stressed the role of the tenancy relationship in finding a way out; the Kuomintang started economic, technical and organizational “new village construction”; and the CPC and left-wing groups rose above the various schools, observed the situation at home and abroad, and sought a fundamental solution in socialization. Since all schools tried to change the spatial relationship between urban and rural areas by means of rural industrialization, urbanization or socialization and sought to bring about the synchronous development of a new form of modern countryside, they inevitably fell into the trap of reformism. Consequently, they were historically fundamentally obliterated by the CPC’s theory and policies of rural revolution.