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Issue 54 (July 2005)
Monastic Politics and the Local State in China: Authority and Autonomy in an Ethnically Tibetan Prefecture
This article investigates the changing nature of relations between a Tibetan monastery and local government since the revival of monasticism in the 1980s. It demonstrates how religious leaders and local government officials co-opt one another in the pursuit of their interests. The article argues that contemporary local government leaders have strong incentives to respond to the rise of new social forces with accommodation rather than oppression. The analysis touches upon a number of themes in contemporary Chinese politics and society including central-local relations, the impact of economic restructuring, and the increasing significance of religion and ethnic identities in local society to illuminate the complexity of forces driving political change at the local level in China today.
Bracing for an Uncertain Future: A Case Study of New Coping Strategies of Rural Parents under China's Birth Control Policy
This article explores the impact of China's birth control on family composition, intergenerational relations, and support of the elderly in contemporary rural China. Discussion of changing child-rearing expectations, new filial roles of daughters and marriage patterns, and new coping strategies by rural parents under China's birth control to meet their needs for old age support.
Everyday Strategies for Team Farming in Collective-Era China: Evidence from Qin Village
Drawing on original documents and oral histories from Qin village of Jiangsu province, this article readdresses the issue of work incentives in China's collective agriculture in the 1970s. Instead of emphasizing the detrimental effects of state-imposed egalitarian policies or difficulties in monitoring team production, this study examines villagers' behaviors in team farming under different systems of labor remuneration, taking into account many factors operating in the collective, such as peer pressure, social sanctions, established practices, gender roles, and above all, the team leader's labor management. These factors, the author argues, combined to shape work norms that constrained the villagers as well as team cadres, whose strategies for team farming were diverse in this context and never limited to shirking as conventional wisdom has suggested.
Global Production, Company Codes of Conduct, and Labor Conditions in China: A Case Study of Two Factories
At a time when China has been racing to become a "world workshop" providing a huge pool of cheap labour for facilitating global production, there is an increasingly concerted effort by transnational corporation to initiate the regulation of labour standards, especially at the company level. In contrast to the "race to the bottom" strategy that works adversely against labour rights globally, there is a kind of "corporate business ethics", initiating and shaping new labour standards and regulations in China's rapidly changing labour relations. This results in a surge in the introduction of corporate codes of conduct by transnational corporations (TNCs), often famous-brand American and European retailers in their Chinese production contractors and subcontractors. This article attempts to understand the corporate ethical codes movement in China, the process of implementation of corporate codes at the company level, and the implication of code practices on labour rights.
"Gambling for Qi": Suicide and Family Politics in a Rural North China County
By describing and analyzing several cases of youth suicide and attempted suicide in a rural county of North China, I enquire into "gambling for qi" (du qi), a popular phrase to explain the cause of suicide in the local society. "Gambling for qi" is aimed to win dignity (qi) by behaving in an extreme way without deliberating about the result. Young people often commit suicide by gambling for when engaged in conflicts in family politics, which are often trivial quarrels. The fact that they frequently gamble for qi in such trivial conflicts shows that there are many problems in the family in post-1949 China. On the one hand, young people are more independent and autonomous in the family; on the other hand, this plunges them into complex and confusing personal dilemmas in the games of power played out within the family.