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Making Capitalism in Rural China

Michael Webber, The School of Geography, University of Melbourne, Australia
This stimulating and challenging book explores the duplicitous nature of development in China. On the positive side, it brings longer and healthier lives; fewer children dead before they are five years old; more comfort and security from famine and disaster; more education; more communication; more travel; less war. But from another, darker perspective, development brings violence to some people – those who are in the way of the new things, those who cannot adapt to the new ways – and it threatens old knowledges, habits and societies as it disrupts old power structures.
Extent: 336 pp
Hardback Price: $155.00 Web: $139.50
Publication Date: 2012
ISBN: 978 0 85793 409 3
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  • Asian Studies
  • Asian Development
  • Asian Geography
  • Asian Urban and Regional Studies
  • Development Studies
  • Asian Development
  • Development Studies
  • Geography
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This stimulating and challenging book explores the duplicitous nature of development in China. On the positive side, it brings longer and healthier lives; fewer children dead before they are five years old; more comfort and security from famine and disaster; more education; more communication; more travel; less war. But from another, darker perspective, development brings violence to some people – those who are in the way of the new things, those who cannot adapt to the new ways – and it threatens old knowledges, habits and societies as it disrupts old power structures.

Michael Webber presents fascinating case studies that demonstrate what these forms of development mean for people who are relatively weak or powerless – those who post-colonial theorists call the subalterns. The cases illustrate how development can change the manner in which people relate to each other and threatens their entire environment. Through this detailed consideration of the impacts of development on the people who live in those places, he examines whether these changes represent the emergence of capitalism or a transition, develops a theory of relationships between economy and daily life and questions the very nature of Chinese capitalism.

This multidisciplinary study encompasses the social sciences to provide a coherent view of the forms that development takes in various places within rural China. As such, it will prove a fascinating and thought-provoking read for undergraduates, postgraduate students and researchers within economics, Asian studies, development studies and geography.
‘Webber is a great communicator readily challenging dogmas and opening up new and alternative ways of seeing and reading. His writing is lively, captivating, and jargon-free. . . It is undeniably an important, persuasive, and highly readable contribution to the scholarship on contemporary Chinese economy and society.
– C. Cindy Fan, Journal of Regional Science

‘Webber’s comprehensive analyses of the political, economic, social and, not least, geographical factors at stake in each specific locality that he has visited make this book thought-provoking and inspiring reading. It is warmly recommended to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of socioeconomic change in rural China.’
– Stig Thøgersen, The China Journal

‘Michael Webber’s excellent study of the diverse ways in which the market and state have impacted upon rural China is based on a decade and a half of annual research visits to far-flung areas of the Chinese countryside. Webber writes well, and he is able to convey a good sense of the stresses to which villagers were subjected in the locales he studied.’
– Jonathan Unger, China Quarterly
Contents: Principal Leaders in the Central Government Since the 1982 Constitution 1. Development is Not a Dinner Party 2. Rich Wang’s Village: Marketing the Dairy Economy 3. Buying Out Collectives and Farms 4. ‘We Never Forcibly Evict Anybody, Except Those Who Refuse to Move’ 5. ‘May God Bless Our Injured Land...’ 6. Water Wallies 7. ‘The Miracle of Creation’ 8. Ethnicity, Poverty, Migration 9. Development is the Irrefutable Fact References Index