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Farmers' Politics


By Zhao Shukai, DRC

If one reviews China’s past rural policies, he will find that they have all laid emphasis on how to make farmers’ lives become wealthy. However, if he compares the past rural development with the present rural progress, he will also find that though the initial concepts for policy making are the same, they may bring about quite different policy designs. This book points out that the well-defined systematic framework might sometimes bring harm to farmers’ life. Through analyzing the reasons for that, the book reveals how the policies are formulated by the high-level government and how the grassroots governments have carried out reform measures while handling with various public affairs in rural areas.

The book also includes the author's research findings on grassroots democracy, rural governance and his approach toward the study of rural affairs. The book has five chapters. Chapter One tells how high-level government leaders formulate policies and the internal logics between different policy making. Through the introduction of some leaders and historical events, this chapter tries to explain the connections between farmers and politics. Chapter Two describes how grassroots governments carry out reform and deal with some major issues. In light of the author’s personal experience, this chapter touches upon the motivation behind rural reform as well as the targets for rural reform. Chapter Three is about the development of democracy at grassroots levels. It discusses a number of issues including grassroots-level Party and government organizations, non-governmental organizations, democracy and legal construction, democracy and social stability, and the international factors affecting democratic process. Chapter Four expounds village governance. The author personally participated in rural work, including the mediation of some conflicts between villagers and cadres, the organization of a number of projects relating to village infrastructure construction, and the improvement of social order. In the last chapter, the author brings to light the importance of historical perspectives in studying rural policy and farmers. In addition, the author offers his experience on how farmers lodged appeals with higher authorities for help and the reasons for farmer-workers migration. He also introduces the studies conducted by some Western scholars on rural conflicts in China.

The author is a research fellow working in DRC. He has made several revisions of the book before its publication. Due to festinate time and limited knowledge of the author, some mistakes and errors in this book are unavoidable and all criticisms and comments are sincerely welcome.