In the Process of Modernization: Local Society in Contemporary China

 Course Description:

This course is designed to survey a broad range of topics in Chinese rural society. The premise of this course is that China is composed of an extensive network of small, predominantly agricultural communities. These communities are undergoing rapid changes when China is going through the process of modernization. An understanding of these changing communities is a necessary component of the study of contemporary Chinese society.  Through lectures, readings, discussions, and field trips, this course will allow students to explore all aspects of this local society of China, including: local institutions, culture and daily lives, and various social problems.  Both historical and sociological approaches would be employed to understand the process of modernization, communities, and inequalities. At the end of this course, students are expected to be able to adopt a fresh perspective, the perspective of rural communities and their members, to achieve a better understanding of contemporary China. 
 

Course Goals:

 
To understand the basic issues of rural communities of contemporary Chinese society.
To understand both the classic studies and the questions that are currently being debated in the field. 
To understand contemporary Chinese society from the perspective of the rural and local communities and their members.
To compare and contrast the social issues facing rural communities in China and their counterparts in other societies.  
To develop the capacity of connecting the present and the past in understanding various social issues.
 
 
 

Required Texts:

 
1)Cao, Jinqing, translated by Nicky Harman and Huang Ruhua: China along the Yellow River: Reflections on Rural Society  (Cao)
2)Martin King Whyte: One country, two societies: Rural-urban Inequality in Contemporary China  (Whyte)
3)Handouts 
4)(Students will receive the help from the instructor in getting reading materials.)
 

Course Requirements:

 
Attendance and Class participation
Class attendance is mandatory. Active class participation is expected of each student and will be rewarded by the instructor in her discretion. 
 
Reading, topic writing, and discussions
Students are expected to complete assigned readings before coming to class.  When coming to class, remember to bring all the assigned reading materials with you. Based on the readings, identify two issues you would like to address further in class discussions.
 
Each student will have several chances to lead the class discussions.  He or she would collect the issues each student brings to the class and facilitate the discussions (see guidelines attached to the syllabus, sign-up sheet will be handed out separately).
 
Students will write a 3- page essay on each of the three main topics to summarize what has been covered and what you want to discuss further.
 
Research, Presentation, and Paper
Select a rural society related topic that interests you and do your research. At the end of the semester, report your research to the class by delivering a 15-minute powerpoint presentation. Based on your research and the feedbacks from the class, write a 15 page (double-spaced) research paper (see instructions attached to the syllabus).
 
Extra Credit: 
Make a 10 minute powerpoint presentation in class on any of your observations that are related to rural communities of China, you may receive extra credit (up to 5 points based on your preparation and presentation).  The topic of your presentation shall not be the same as your final research project.  Consult the instructor about your presentation at least one week before your intended date.  And such presentation should be made before the last two weeks of class.
 
 

Composition of final grade:

 
Class attendance and participation            =5%               
Leading discussion                         =15%
Topic essays                            =30%
Research Presentation                      =10%
Research paper                    =40%
(Extra credit                    =up to 5 points)
 
Course Outline and Readings (subject to change)
 
Please do the readings before the class.  
 

Topics & Readings

 
Introduction to the course: Concepts, Perspectives, Issues, and Methods
No readings
 
Rural China in history: the imperial, the communist, and the reform era 
Readings: handouts
 
Local institutions
Local institutions (Part I)
Readings: Cao, China along the Yellow River 
Hang, Lin. 2011. “A Mixed Bag of Results: Village Elections in Contemporary China.” Asian Culture and History 3(1): 14-23. (ProQuest)
            Walder, Andrew G. 2002. "Markets and Income Inequality in Rural China: Political
            Advantage in an Expanding Economy." American Sociological Review 67:231-53.
Local institutions (part II)
Readings: Cao, China along the Yellow River 
Murphy, Rachel. 2000. “Return migration, entrepreneurship and local state corporatism in rural China: The experience of two counties in south Jiangxi.” Journal of Contemporary China 9 (24): 231-248. (ProQuest)
 
Local culture
Local culture (Part I)
Readings: Hillman, Ben. 2004. “The Rise of the Community in Rural China: Village Politics, Cultural Identity and Religious Revival in a Hui Hamlet.” The China Journal 51:53-74. (ProQuest)
Law, Pui-Lam.  2005. “The Revival of Folk Religion and Gender Relationships in Rural China: A Preliminary Observation.” Asian Folklore Studies 64 (1): 89-109. (Jstor)
Davey, Gareth, Zhenghui Chen, Anna Lau. 2009. “‘Peace in a Thatched Hut--that is Happiness': Subjective Wellbeing Among Peasants in Rural China”. Journal of Happiness Studies10 (2): 
239-252.  
Local culture (Part II)
Field trip to rural communities
No readings
 
 
 
Social Inequalities
Social Inequalities (Part I)
Readings: Whyte, One country, two societies
 
Social Inequalities (Part II)
Student presentations
Readings: Whyte, One country, two societies
        Murphy, Rachel. 2003. “Fertility and Distorted Sex Ratios in Rural China: Culture,
        State and Policy,” Population and Development Review 29 (4) (December): 595-626.
 
 
Instructions
 
RESEARCH PAPER
 
The paper should take up a significant issue about local society in China, both present and past.   Precise topics should negotiate with the instructor.  The paper should be 15 pages long (typed, double-spaced, in 12-point Times font, with one-inch-margins all around).  In matters of style please follow that of the Journal of Asian Studies (any volume after 1987).    
 
 The criteria for grading the essay are as the followings: 
1) Clear, focused, and well-supported thesis, original and coherent arguments, appropriate and accurate use of sources = 50%
2) Clear and coherent structure = 30%
3) Flawless grammar = 20%
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