This analysis represents the latest scholarly work that forms part of the existing canon of research on one of the most studied villages in rural China. Three prominent American scholars—Ramon Myers, Philip Huang, and Prasenjit Duara—studied Lengshuigou, among other villages, to create the foundational research and theory for the study of Chinese villages, inaugurating the field known as Rural China Studies. Unlike its predecessors, this story was written by the Chinese as part of a collective research effort involving numerous undergraduate and graduate students from Shandong University, led by professor Lin Juren of the Department of Sociology.
This approach generates a comprehensive and extensive collection of material about the topic, which facilitates effective and consistent comparisons.
Follow up studies tend to foster close connections between researchers and participants, facilitating in-depth inquiries and the extensive exploration of recurrent topics from numerous perspectives. In Chinese rural societies, these close connections are extremely valuable. As Grove writes in the preface xvi , the networks established between Shandong University and the people of Lengshuigou allowed Lin and his team to conduct a large-scale survey of villagers, from 1, households.
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They examined factors such as the value and maintenance of interpersonal relationships and networks. This has been confirmed in other studies, such as in Andrew B. These are still regarded as the most important, but are no longer the imperatives they once were. As such, the authors argue that the current diversity that marks the formation and composition of social relationships and networks is directly correlated with changes in village occupational structure and landscape.
For example, the percentage of villagers relying on agriculture for subsistence has dropped from approximately 90 percent in the early s, to 28 percent in the late s In modern Lengshuigou, every household now has a non-agricultural source of income. With the increasing infiltration of Lengshuighou into Jinan city through urban development and infrastructure in Lengshuigou and surrounding areas, many villagers now travel or commute daily to Jinan by vehicle or transit for work or school, creating new kinds of social interactions, changing mindsets and social practices.
For the youth of Lengshuigou, these changes represent hope for new opportunities, including more autonomy and freedom.
Plenty Cafe in Queen Village to renovate, change name to Village
For the older generations, the changes represent the end of an era and the imposition of a new and alien lifestyle. As is typical of a follow-up study, this book draws on both quantitative and qualitative methods; from previous scholarly analyses to documentary information county gazetteers, archival material, and family documents ; policy documents, survey data, in-depth interviews and participant observation. And research by the World bank and SMERU observes how the first two years of the implementation affects village governance, and whether the embodiment of good governance principles participation, transparency, and accountability can be translated into managing the village resources in an accountable manner to benefit the general community.
Using dana desa to build new village offices.
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Photo: Jacqueline Vel. But while raising important questions, these discussions only focus on how the law was designed and what it ideally should accomplish. We all know that the reality might be different. Large changes like establishing village democracy will not likely occur overnight.
What is the context of the Village Law? What are the ongoing processes of change in which this piece of legislation intervenes?
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Thirty researchers presented their papers. From these talks, there are some clear take home lessons. First, the Village Law seems inspired by two main images of the village.
One is the romantic version of the closed corporate community of shared values, mutual help and harmony. The other is the image of the village head as a benign father. Both visions tend to produce a lack of control and accountability instruments. Historical studies on the village in Java have been the source of inspiration for these two images.
The History Press | More change in the village: Farming in the early 20th century
However, the perspective of village inhabitants is usually different. This internal perspective shows social and class differentiation, with potential for power imbalances, conflict and politicisation. The question then becomes, how will conflicting interests between groups within the village affect the implementation of the Village Law? Second, if we only look at the short-term, the new Village Law seems like a dramatic change in policy.
Providing a law that creates democratic village institutions will not be sufficient by itself for diminishing power imbalances in the village. The poor and marginalised will not benefit from Village Law reforms and funds, as long as village elites do not provide information and access to decision-making. The powerless can only afford to abandon their patrons if there is a steady, lasting and reliable alternative.
Another point of discussion was that the lawmakers assumed that the large village fund dana desa will bring prosperity to rural areas and reduce poverty. However, there is no analysis of the causes of poverty. These might be beyond the powers and territory of the villagers, and hard to solve with just an annual village budget.
If we concentrate on the village economy, we lose sight of higher levels of government and the larger economy in which the village economy is situated. For example, in state-dependent economies with few opportunities for local economic activity people would rather invest in educating children hoping they will be state employees. In such situations administrative fragmentation pemekaran desa flourishes. The power of the district government is another factor limiting village autonomy. The district should approve planning documents and financial reports that villages make to account for their activities.