Rural Society Transformation and Governance

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.8, 2017


Rural Society Transformation and Governance



Lan Yuyun, Dong Leiming and Guo Junxia


Rural society is an important dimension of the transformation and development of Chinese society, and the changing modes of its transformation and governance will certainly have an impact upon the overall direction and effects of the transformation and governance of Chinese society. In the face of the current economic and social transformation, some profound structural problems are becoming increasingly serious as rural society tries to develop with the times. Against this background, the discussion of problems and solutions that address the transformation and governance of rural society from an economic and socio-cultural angle has become significant. As Professor Lan Yuyun of the School of Politics and Administration of South China Normal University points out, with the non-agricultural transformation of the rural collective economy, many village-level collectives have reformed the collective economy and set up community shareholding systems, creating a collective economy system aimed at marketization. This reform has facilitated the capitalization and scale operation of the collective economy, but in most cases it has not really accomplished the transition to marketization, nor has it solved or alleviated such problems as the dissolution of the “collectivity. One important reason for this is that community shareholding reform neglects the fact that the non-agricultural collective economy is a social economy and ignores the significance of the sociality required to maintain its economic character. Concern for the loss of sociality in the non-agricultural collective economy and the ensuing cultivation and building of such sociality is the key to enabling the non-agricultural collective economy to emerge from its current predicament and carry out sustainable development. According to Professor Dong Leiming, at the School of Sociology of the Beijing Normal University, and Associate Professor Guo Junxia, at the School of Philosophy of the Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, mianzi (“face” in the sense of pride or dignity) as a sort of “community currency” indicates reciprocal relations between individuals, implying mutual obligation or renqing, and at the same time suggests social evaluation, reputation and status; it is a value standard that individuals as members of society rely on to become established in society and get along with people, and also the sense of efficacy and social assessment that arises from living up to social values. In the communities to which individuals belong, mianzi achieves social control through positive praise or negative exclusion and shapes the village social order. In different types of rural areas, disparities in village social structure have resulted in differences in people’s sense of belonging, and the idea of mianzi also takes different forms. In the rapid transformation in the Chinese countryside, the farmers view of mianzi is changing rapidly, and the mechanism for maintaining the village social order is being re-constructed.