An insider's account of life in Gao village in Jiangxi province in China, the author of this text was born and brought up in the village, before leaving at the age of 21 to study English at Xiamen University. He still returns annually to the village to visit his brother who continues to live there. The work covers a 40 year period and can be divided up into four distinct themes: the village before and after land reform; the commune system; the dismantling of the communes; and the unfolding impact of the market economy - including growing migration to urban areas - from the late-1980s onwards. The author concludes that although the PRC has continually discriminated against rural residents, who are generically referred to as "peasants", the radical policies implemented during the Cultural Revolution brought about visible improvements in education and health care.
The study of rural China and the case of Gao village; the setting; land, water and local politics; population and politics; living standards; rural health; rural education; the Great Leap Forward; the Cultural Revolution; reforms since the late-1970s; migrant workers; change and continuity - culture and customs; Gao village and the outside world.