Mountainous Liangshan Prefecture, on the southern border of Sichuan Province, is one of China's most remote regions. Although Liangshan's majority ethnic group, the Nuosu (now classified by the Chinese government as part of the Yi ethnic group), practiced a subsistence economy and were, by Chinese standards, extremely poor, their traditional society was stratified into endogamous castes, the most powerful of which owned slaves. With the incorporation of Liangshan into China's new socialist society in the mid-twentieth century, the Nuosu were required to abolish slavery and what the Chinese government considered to be superstitious religious practices. When Han Chinese moved into the area, competing with Nuosu for limited resources and introducing new cultural and economic challenges, some Nuosu took advantage of China's new economic policies in the 1980s to begin private businesses.
In Doing Business in Rural China, Thomas Heberer tells the stories of individual entrepreneurs and presents a wealth of economic data gleaned from extensive fieldwork in Liangshan. He documents and analyzes the phenomenal growth during the last two decades of Nuosu-run businesses, comparing these with Han-run businesses and asking how ethnicity affects the new market-oriented economic structure and how economics in turn affects Nuosu culture and society. He finds that Nuosu entrepreneurs have effected significant change in local economic structures and social institutions and have financed major social and economic development projects. This economic development has prompted Nuosu entrepreneurs to establish business, political, and social relationships beyond the traditional social confines of the clan, while also fostering awareness and celebration of ethnicity.
Die Autoren konzentrieren sich auf die Gemeinde- und Dorfebene. Indem sie nahezu alle Bereiche dieser Ebene nachzeichnen, entsteht ein relativ umfassender Überblick über die Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft der Gemeinden und deren Wandlungsprozeß. Die Rolle und Arbeitsweise der lokalen Betriebe, Märkte und Marktfunktionen, Urbanisierungsprozesse und Migration, Finanzen und Steuern werden ebenso untersucht wie Änderungen in der Verwaltungsstruktur, im Kadersystem, in der Zusammensetzung der Partei, der Wandel der Eliten und Schichten, Werte- und Einstellungswandel, Regionalismus- und Kommunalismusprozesse oder die Herausbildung und Entwicklung von Interessenvereinigungen. Grundlage dieser detaillierten Studie bildete eine sechsmonatige Felduntersuchung in sieben Gemeinden in sechs Provinzen Chinas.
In particular, they argue that the central government has begun to restructure urban neighbourhoods, and has encouraged residents to govern themselves by means of democratic procedures. Heberer and Göbel also contend that whilst on the one hand, the central government has managed to bring the Party-state back into urban society, especially by tapping into a range of social groups that depend on it, it has not, however, managed to establish a broad base for participation. In testing this hypothesis, the book examines the rationales, strategies and impacts of this comeback by systematically analyzing how the reorganization of neighbourhood committees was actually conducted and find that opportunities for participation were far more limited than initially promised.
The book will be of interest to students and scholars of Chinese Studies, Development Studies, Urban Studies and Asian Studies in general.
Topics addressed include:
rural tax- for-fees reforms,
elections in villages and urban neighbourhood communities,
property rights in rural industries,
endogenous political constraints of transition,
internalising capital markets,
the media market in transition,
the current social security system,
the labour market
environmental policy reforms to anti-poverty policies and NGOs.
Exploring the possibility of legitimate one-party rule in China, this book is a stimulating and informative read for students and scholars interested in political science and Chinese politics