Bounded Collectivism

Wu Yi
Asia Pacific Journal, 2014 vol. 12 no 31:3
Online version
Abstract: By shedding light on the enduring social identities of rural settlement communities, often referred to as “natural villages” (自然村) by the current Chinese government, this article provides a new approach to the formation of China’s rural collective land ownership system from the 1950s to the present. It reveals how a unique landholding structure, which I term “bounded collectivism,” was initially formed in southwest China as a result of the contestation and negotiation between the socialist state aiming to establish collective land ownership and rural settlement communities seeking exclusive control over land resources within their borders. Significant elements of that collective land ownership system would be perpetuated while accommodating “natural villages” in the three decades since the abolition of the communes and the creation of a system of household contracts.