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Peasant Innovation and Grassroots Action in China

Constructing a New Framework for Rural Development

ISBN: 978-1-78441-622-5, eISBN: 978-1-78441-621-8

Publication date: 9 March 2015


In any time and space and under any circumstance, we find peasants are never passive actors in their livelihoods and rural development. Instead, they always create space for manoeuvre in order to make changes. This chapter analyses the innovative actions taken by the majority of rural inhabitants in rural areas during the overwhelming modernization process, so as to affirm that peasants are the main actors of rural development. It is they who have shaped the transformation of rural societies and the history. Through the analysis, this chapter concludes that rural development is not an objective, a blueprint nor a design. It is not the to-be-developed rear field in modernization. It is not the babysitter for cities, nor a rehearsal place for bureaucrats to testify their random thoughts. Rural development is what peasants do. The path they have chosen reveals scenery so different from modernization. If we regard development as a social change, or a cross with influential meanings, we could understand rural development as peasants’ victories over their predicament. Villages accommodate not only peasants, but without peasants villages would surely vanish. In this sense, the most important part in rural development or rural change is peasants – their conditions and their feelings.




We would like to extend our thanks to Dr. Chunyu Wang and Dr. Lu Pan for their contributions in the finalization of this chapter. Appreciations also go to Professor Jan Douwe van der Ploeg for his guidance, and to Professor Tony Fuller for his English language editing work.


Ye, J. and Fu, H. (2015), "Peasant Innovation and Grassroots Action in China", Constructing a New Framework for Rural Development (Research in Rural Sociology and Development, Vol. 22), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 89-126.



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