Rural Transformations and Development – China in Context
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Rural Transformations and Development – China in Context

The Everyday Lives of Policies and People

Edited by Norman Long, Jingzhong Ye and Yihuan Wang

This unique book explores the varied perspectives on contemporary processes of rural transformation and policy intervention in China. The expert contributors combine a critical review of current theoretical viewpoints and global debates with a series of case studies that document the specificities of China’s pathways to change. Central issues focus on the dynamics of state–peasant encounters; the diversification of labour and livelihoods; out-migration and the blurring of rural and urban scenarios; the significance of issues of ‘value’ and ‘capital’ and their gender implications; land ownership and sustainable resource management; struggles between administrative cadres and local actors; and the dilemmas of ‘participatory’ development.
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Chapter 11: State Policy Intervention in an Era of Civic Participation

Alberto Arce


1 Alberto Arce INTRODUCTION This chapter focuses on the analysis of policy intervention and the struggles that emerge from civic action in the process of rural transformation. Given the rapidly changing global environment, characterized by the way participation has reintroduced a ‘broader and more all-embracing notion of social policy’ (Hall and Midgley 2004: 36), it is I believe timely to reexamine the issue of civic participation, as used in international development studies. An understanding of increased civic participation in emergent economies such as China has generally been connected with processes of rapid modernization and the penetration of neo-liberal discourses and strategy, although recently some scholars have challenged this position (see Nonini 2008; Ong 2007). One of my tasks here is to distill what one might learn from the recent upsurge of civic activism in Latin America. In this respect analyses by Foweraker (2001), Arce (2007) and Fox (2007) inform the present chapter. One consequence of this activism has been to expose the limitations of theoretical models of state policy intervention, as we used to know them, offering the possibility to rethink state policy intervention. Hence a main objective of this chapter is to move away conceptually from the search for policy utopias and instead to embrace the understanding of heterotopias composed of multiple contested meanings and practices (cf. Foucault 1986) in both the material and expressive components of actors’ worlds. In doing so, I focus on intervention processes as encompassing knowledge and social conflict in ways that are generated by...

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