Local Societies and Rural Development
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Local Societies and Rural Development

Self-organization and Participatory Development in Asia

Edited by Shinichi Shigetomi and Ikuko Okamoto

The importance of community-based and participatory approaches to rural development in developing countries has long been emphasized. Rural people, who are economically and politically weak as individuals, can only participate in development projects when they are collectively organized. However, this is no easy task. This book aims to identify the mechanisms in each local society through which rural people can best organize themselves to meet their development requirements. It stresses the need to find local mechanisms that motivate and control the members of a new organization in order to achieve organizational goals.
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Chapter 8: Communal resource-driven rural development: the salient feature of organizational activities in Chinese villages

Nanae Yamada


It has long been said that it is hard to find any unity or cohesion except for kinship and bilateral networks in Chinese society. Sun Yat-sen indicated insightfully in his Three Principles of the People in the early 1900s that Chinese people were separated like grains of sand, with no source of cohesion except for family and kinship (Sun 1989). Famous sociologist Shaotong Fei indicated that Chinese rural society was a collection of elastic, bilateral relations called guanxi. A series of rural investigations mainly conducted in the North China Plain by the Japanese South Manchuria Railway Research Department before World War II did not reveal any strongly tied territorial communities like those seen in German and Japanese villages (Hatada 1973). Collective actions observed in rural China are not an expression of the unity of the village community but merely an aggregation of market-oriented, rational people who are tied by common necessity or interests (Suga 2009). Chinese society is the web of personal network that consists of individual, bilateral relations and groups of individuals that appear fluidly and flexibly from time to time (Tahara 2006). In the people’s commune era in the 1950s to 1970s, members of people’s communes were compelled to be organized by order and enforcement.

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