Organization of Time in the Chinese Countryside: Labor, Rhythms and Gender in the Later Maoist Period (1958-1978)


  • Vesna Vučinić Nešković Department of Ethnology and Anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia



time, countryside, industrialization, work rhythms, Maoism, China


This paper deals with the question of how the state policies during the later Maoist period, from the beginning of the Great Leap Forward (1958) to the introduction of the Modernization Reforms (1978), affected the organization of time in the Chinese countryside. After abandoning the initial Soviet model of modernization, based on the exclusive strengthening of heavy industry, the China’s leadership developed a strategy of parallel development of agriculture and industry, wherein the former would additionally support the modernization of the latter. The study is focused on the ways the longer term state plans and shorter term economic, social and ideological policies and campaigns jointly influenced the rhythms of life of Chinese peasants. The domains in which these influences became visible were: (1) the intensification of agricultural practices, (2) the introducing of the small-scale industry, and (3) the politicizing of the spare time. In the analysis the characteristic rhythms of work and rest within the daily, weekly, seasonal, and annual time spans are followed in detail.



Download data is not yet available.


American Rural Small-Scale Industries Delegation. 1977. Rural Small-Scale Industry in the People’s Republic of China. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Andors, Phyllis. 1983. The Unfinished Liberation of Chinese Women, 1949-1980. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Bauer, Wolfgang. 1976. China and the Search for Happiness: Recurring Themes in Four Thousand Years of Chinese Cultural History, Michael Shaw (trans.). New York: The Seabury Press.

Chan Anita, Richard Madsen, Jonathan Unger. 1984. Chen Village: The Recent History of a Peasant Community in Mao’s China. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Chan Anita, Jonathan Unger, Richard Madsen.1992. Chen Village under Mao and Deng. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Chan Anita, Richard Madsen, Jonathan Unger.2009. Chen Village: Revolution to Globalization. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Dutt, Gargi. 1961. The Rural People’s Communes of China, International Studies 3: 45-64.

Economic History of the People’s Republic of China.

Friedman Edward, Paul G. Pickowitz, Mark Selden. 2005. Revolution, Resistance and Reform in Village China. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Gernet, Jacques. 1972/1982. A History of Chinese Civilization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Glossary – China. 2010. Library of Congress_ Federal Research Division _Country Studies_Area Handbook Series_China_Glossary.htm.

Hua, Kaiyuan. 1984. Some Problems of our Country’s Development of Medium-Size Cities, Jingjo Wenti 7: 38-43.

Huang, Yasheng. 1985. State and Society in Rural China: A Study of Change in Authority Relations under the Agricultural Reform since 1979. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard College, Department of Government, honors senior thesis.

Huang, Yasheng. 2003. Selling China: Foreign Direct Investment during the Reform Era. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Huang, Yasheng. 2008. Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics: Entrepreneurship and the State. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Joseph, William A. (ed.). 2010. Politics in China: An Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kueh, Y.Y. 2006. Mao and Agriculture in China’s Industrialization: Three Antithesis in a 50-year Perspective. The China Quarterly 187: 700-723.

Lieberthal, Kenneth J. 1995. Governing China: From Revolution to Reform. New York: W.W. Norton.

Lippit, Victor. 1977. The Commune in Chinese Development. Modern China 3: 229-255.

Lippit, Victor. 1981. The People’s Communes and China’s New Development Strategy, Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars 13.

McFarquhar, Roderick. 1974,1983,1999. The Origins of the Cultural Revolution Vol. 1-3. New York: Columbia University Press.

McFarquar Roderick, John K. Fairbank (eds.). 1987. The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 14. The People’s Republic of China, Part 1: The Emergence of Revolutionary China, 1949-1965. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Murphey, Rhoads. 1980. The Fading of the Maoist Vision: City and Country in China’s Development. New York, London, Toronto: Methuen.

Parish William L., Whyte Martin King. 1978. Village and Family in Contemporary China. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Rawski, Thomas G. 1979. Economic Growth and Employment in China. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Robertson, Alexander F. 1984. People and the State: An Anthropology of Planned Development. Cambridge and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.

Romich, Manfred F. 1981. The Chinese People’s Communes and the Modernization of Agriculture. China Report 17:15-24.

Saich, Tony. 2001. The Governance and Politics of China. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Selden, Mark. 2006. Jack Gray, Mao Zedong and the Political Economy of Chinese development, The China Quarterly 187: 680-685.

Sigurdson, Jon. 1977. Rural Industrialization in China. Harvard East Asian Monographs 73. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Teiwes, Frederick C. 2010. Mao Zedong in Power (1949-1976). Politics in China, William A. Joseph (ed.): Oxford: Oxford University Press: 63-103.

Unger, Jonathan. 2002. The Transformation of Rural China. New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc.

Vogel Ezra F. 1989. One Step Forward in China: Guangdong under Reform. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Walder, Andrew. 1987. Communist Social Structure and Workers’ Politics in China. In: Citizens and Groups in Contemporary China, V. Falkenheim (ed.), Michigan Monographs in Chinese Studies 56, Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 45-89.

Walder, Andrew. 1984. The Remaking of the Chinese Working Class, 1949-1981, Modern China 10.1: 3-48.

Wolf, Margery. 1985. Revolution Postponed: Women in Contemporary China. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.




How to Cite

Vučinić Nešković, Vesna. 2010. “Organization of Time in the Chinese Countryside: Labor, Rhythms and Gender in the Later Maoist Period (1958-1978)”. Etnoantropološki Problemi / Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 5 (2):205-36.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>