Centering on an analysis of the role of diqi, or the degree of commitment underlying one’s self-confidence and actions, this study investigates villagers’ differential responses to the same project of demolition of local residences in three neighboring communities in order to understand the psychological mechanism through which peasant resistance came to be differentiated. It is found that what sustained peasant actions was their shared moral commitment to a way of life rather than self-interest or rational reasoning. Different also from James Scott’s “subsistence ethic” or Ying Xing’s ethical power “qi,” however, what the villagers stressed was an “everyday ethic” that sought to preserve their current way of life. Their resistance took different forms because of the different levels of commitment (diqi) that influenced their choice of actions despite the same kind of impact on their ethic of everyday life. To protect the rights and interests of rural residents and alleviate their resistance, it is necessary to give weight to the ethic of the everyday way of life of villagers instead of the logic of capital and to pay attention to the fundamental concerns of the silent majority in rural China.
After more than ten years of compensatory growth, the Chinese people’s dietary life has undergone a significant consumer revolution since the 1990s: there has been a major change in the quantity, structure, and consumption patterns of food, and animal food intake has increased significantly. The consumer revolution is underpinned not only by the “hidden agricultural revolution” in China, but also by the huge imports of agri-food and the hundreds of millions of acres of “virtual farmland,” which reached 200 million tonnes and one billion mu respectively in 2017. Given the tendency of food consumption to exceed the needs of maintaining health, the heavy ecological pressure on domestic agriculture, as well as the risks of the international situation and the external ecological impact associated with massive imports, the sustainability of this unfinished revolution is in question. At the national strategic level, advocating the moderation of consumption and the reduction of waste and reducing consumption expectations and consumption volume have become necessary choices.
This article explores the process and mechanism of the politicization of the land in order to understand the operational logic of the collective land system and the deep structure of the rural political order. The actual process of land politics functions to facilitate the political integration of rural communities and reshape the mode of resource allocation between the state and the rural population. While the politicization of the land manifests the autonomy of rural collective organizations, the rights-based attributes of the land function to undermine the autonomy and disrupt the political links among the state, the collective, and rural residents, hence the depoliticization of the land. The effective governance of rural society entails more room for experiments in the rural collective land system.
While the overall pattern of peasant economic activities in Ding county has remained largely unchanged since the Republican years, in which farming as the major source of income was supplemented with sidelines, this article finds constant changes in the ways in which this pattern continues and in the nature of supplementary sidelines. Specifically, there have been four types of peasant households: completely farming; farming combined with sidelines; non-farming combined with sidelines; completely non-farming, with the “combined households” being the dominant type and undergoing a transition from the farming-based to the non-farming-based. The farming household-based managerial pattern currently remains and will continue to be an optimal choice in the long run.
This article challenges the view that land transactions in China from the Song to the late Qing periods became increasingly marketized and effective in resource allocation. In traditional China, the land was never a commodity in the ordinary sense; it served as the very basic means of survival and production for peasants while functioning as the most critical determinant shaping the sustainability of the environment for the survival of humankind. Neither market transactions nor any means external or internal to the state were effective enough in regulating either the total demand or the total supply of the land in China and alleviating the tension in man-to-land relations. Land transactions in imperial China were very different by nature and in terms of their social and economic impact from the received wisdom in Western economic theories, which assumes the decisive roles of supply and demand in shaping market prices and the patterns of production in the commodity economy.