An analysis of educational reforms in modern China and their impact on rural inhabitants
A County of Culture provides a detailed analysis of education reforms in twentieth-century rural China, and of how these reforms relate to larger processes of social, political, and economic transformation. Based on documents and life histories collected in Zouping, the book focuses on education as an indicator of the changing relations between state and rural society; as a crucial feature in local economic life; and as a decisive factor in individual careers and destinies.
A County of Culture demonstrates how changes in educational policies have exerted considerable influence on social life in Zouping, from the macro level of nation building and state formation to the micro level of individual careers. It also shows that the rural population has been far from being a passive object of reform, and that it has been extremely difficult for educational reformers to achieve their goals as a result of the social, economic, and mental realities of China's villages. The fate of educational reforms has thus been decided in the tension between two poles: the visions of educational planners and reformers on the one hand, and the expectations of the rural population on the other.
Not only pertinent to specialists of Chinese education, this book will also be useful to anyone interested in state-society relations in modern China and to students of comparative education and rural development.
Stig Thøgersen is Associate Professor of Chinese Language and Society, University of Aarhus.