Introduction: Rural Economic Reforms and Chinese Family Patterns
The rural economic reforms introduced into China after 1978 have wreaked havoc on the accumulated scholarship of China specialists in the west. Dozens of books and articles that had revealed the inner workings of people's communes and the merits and faults of competing work point systems were reduced to historical curiosities by the decollectivization drive that swept the nation. In the wake of the demise of the familiar and fairly standardized pattern represented by people's communes, many questions arose for debate. How much of the collective system remained in rural China after decollectivization? To what extent did the revived system of family farming represent a return to pre-socialist organizational patterns, or was any resemblance to the past superficial and misleading? Was there a general pattern of village organization across the nation in the wake of decollectivization, or had uniformity completely given way to local peculiarities?