A Study on the Different Values Assigned to Bulls and Cows under the Structure of Male and Female Workpoints in Collectivist China: The Practice of Lingqian Village in Shandong Province


In: Rural China
Jing Du (杜靖) Chinese Legal Anthropology Research Center, Qingdao University (青岛大学 中国法律人类学研究中心) Qingdao City China

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During the collectivization period, the price of the bull was higher than the price of the cow on the fixed asset registration form in Lingqian Village, Linyi City, Shandong Province. The workpoints of male labor were also higher than those for female labor. Therefore, there was a gender difference that applied to both cattle and humans, but the former was not simply the social projection and cultural metaphor of the latter; rather they shared the same natural difference in terms of economic value in that given system. Namely, the values of humans and cattle depended entirely on their contribution to agricultural labor, not on gender discrimination. The reason for this phenomenon is that the ecological environment and living conditions shaped people’s psychology, which then determined the internal classification structure of gender in humans as well as animals. The classification attitude of the values of humans and animals was thus a result of adaptation to the natural environment and living conditions, and, as such, was a collective survival strategy, but it was also the product of a particular economic system. This phenomenon resulted from the fact that the privately owned land of individual families had been collectivized, revealing some characteristics of the cattle-raising mode under the collective economic system. The case of Lingqian Village in Shandong Province contributes to world anthropology by illustrating one particular system of social livelihood, with cattle as the reference point.

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