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Taitou: A Chinese Peasant Community

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Information about Taitou: A Chinese Peasant Community

Published on November 30, 2008

Author: PaulVMcDowell

Source: slideshare.net

Description

Describes the economy and society of Taitou in pre-Communist and Communist Eras
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Taitou A Chinese Peasant Village

Introduction Taitou is (or was) a village of independent peasants It was part of a region of 20 communities dominated by a market town Unlike Mesoamerica, there was no leveling device such as obligatory service entailing financial expenditures Though stratified, wealthy families might break down into smaller, less wealthy families All families were highly entrepreneurial

Taitou is (or was) a village of independent peasants

It was part of a region of 20 communities dominated by a market town

Unlike Mesoamerica, there was no leveling device such as obligatory service entailing financial expenditures

Though stratified, wealthy families might break down into smaller, less wealthy families

All families were highly entrepreneurial

Location of Taitou Taitou is located in Shantung (now Shandong) province in northeastern China Though dense, Taitou comprised independent peasants

Taitou is located in Shantung (now Shandong) province in northeastern China

Though dense, Taitou comprised independent peasants

Land Tenure and Distribution All land was privately owned Each family had land in different ecological zones Lighter, terraced, sandy plots on hillsides supported peanuts and sweet potatoes Moist bottom soils supported rice cultivation Flatlands yielded millet and wheat Most families enjoyed both diversified and secure crop yields

All land was privately owned

Each family had land in different ecological zones

Lighter, terraced, sandy plots on hillsides supported peanuts and sweet potatoes

Moist bottom soils supported rice cultivation

Flatlands yielded millet and wheat

Most families enjoyed both diversified and secure crop yields

Intensive Cultivation Techniques With ample labor and small plots, every plot involved multiple cropping with some fallowing Fertilizer was required for all crops and had to be acquired from all sources possible: animal and human waste, ashes from fires, all put into compost All families owned a few animals, also intensely used for plowing and harrowing

With ample labor and small plots, every plot involved multiple cropping with some fallowing

Fertilizer was required for all crops and had to be acquired from all sources possible: animal and human waste, ashes from fires, all put into compost

All families owned a few animals, also intensely used for plowing and harrowing

Wealth Distinctions Land ownership: a few with 20 acres, a smaller number with 10, and the majority with 2. All families has the same diet, but the better off enjoyed fish and bread Stratification was deemphasized However, the wealthier did display their wealth in the form of multi-roomed houses, fine clothing, and fat oxen These differences provoked envy, but unlike Mesoamerica, these differences were not hidden

Land ownership: a few with 20 acres, a smaller number with 10, and the majority with 2.

All families has the same diet, but the better off enjoyed fish and bread

Stratification was deemphasized

However, the wealthier did display their wealth in the form of multi-roomed houses, fine clothing, and fat oxen

These differences provoked envy, but unlike Mesoamerica, these differences were not hidden

Family Structure Taitou is based mostly on nuclear families Family may be extended to include one married son—a stem family Other sons leave to form their own family Gender division of labor: women handling domestic chores, men doing agriculture or engaged in commercial trade and politics All members contribute to household by performing different jobs

Taitou is based mostly on nuclear families

Family may be extended to include one married son—a stem family

Other sons leave to form their own family

Gender division of labor: women handling domestic chores, men doing agriculture or engaged in commercial trade and politics

All members contribute to household by performing different jobs

Village Division of Labor All households produce for the market: pigs, peanuts, soy beans Women bought cotton and spun it for themselves, but they hired dyers and weavers Specialists made and repaired tools Other specialists: soy oil pressers, carpenter, masons, schoolteacher, public officials

All households produce for the market: pigs, peanuts, soy beans

Women bought cotton and spun it for themselves, but they hired dyers and weavers

Specialists made and repaired tools

Other specialists: soy oil pressers, carpenter, masons, schoolteacher, public officials

Markets and Market Town Taitou was one of 20 towns within the sphere of a market town, Hsinanchen This town was larger than the other villages and contained shops, from bakeries to bookstores A large market place opened upon regular market days Market days were coordinated with those in other market towns in the region so itinerant traders could trade in all of them

Taitou was one of 20 towns within the sphere of a market town, Hsinanchen

This town was larger than the other villages and contained shops, from bakeries to bookstores

A large market place opened upon regular market days

Market days were coordinated with those in other market towns in the region so itinerant traders could trade in all of them

Functions of Market Towns Traders, all men, bought and sold They also met in tea or wine shops to exchange information about the regional economic conditions and opportunities Men obtained credit from shops essential to maintaining their own production Even if men had nothing to buy or sell, they went to town with empty baskets to exchange information and maintain their credit

Traders, all men, bought and sold

They also met in tea or wine shops to exchange information about the regional economic conditions and opportunities

Men obtained credit from shops essential to maintaining their own production

Even if men had nothing to buy or sell, they went to town with empty baskets to exchange information and maintain their credit

Regional Markets and Economic Elites Market towns were part of a wider network Elites formed part of this network Central places formed even wider hierarchies No patron-client relationship existed The elite were economic rather than political, although there were administrative centers

Market towns were part of a wider network

Elites formed part of this network

Central places formed even wider hierarchies

No patron-client relationship existed

The elite were economic rather than political, although there were administrative centers

Marriage and Family Relations All marriages were arranged, and the couple might not see each other until the wedding Marriage set strategic alliances between families Bride labor was common: before marriage, the betrothed male worked for the wife’s family, turning all earnings over to the bride-to-be’s father Residence was patrilocal, and the son continued to turn all his income over to his father Daughter-in-law was under the control of their mother-in-law

All marriages were arranged, and the couple might not see each other until the wedding

Marriage set strategic alliances between families

Bride labor was common: before marriage, the betrothed male worked for the wife’s family, turning all earnings over to the bride-to-be’s father

Residence was patrilocal, and the son continued to turn all his income over to his father

Daughter-in-law was under the control of their mother-in-law

Family Formation Gradually, the son’s loyalty to family eroded and he sought to obtain land for his own farm The father was authoritarian, and the son sought to escape this arrangement The daughter-in-law also encouraged the split, being that the mother-in-law was very strict toward her Daughters and daughters in law had their own financial sources from odd jobs that were theirs to keep That eliminated the father’s absolute domination over the couple

Gradually, the son’s loyalty to family eroded and he sought to obtain land for his own farm

The father was authoritarian, and the son sought to escape this arrangement

The daughter-in-law also encouraged the split, being that the mother-in-law was very strict toward her

Daughters and daughters in law had their own financial sources from odd jobs that were theirs to keep

That eliminated the father’s absolute domination over the couple

Advantages of Extended Families Enforced frugality to increase savings and assets Division of labor into specialized economic activities One example: one son would work the land; other sons took up commerce, trade, farm workers for others, crafts and the arts Ability to obtain more land

Enforced frugality to increase savings and assets

Division of labor into specialized economic activities

One example: one son would work the land; other sons took up commerce, trade, farm workers for others, crafts and the arts

Ability to obtain more land

Expansion into Clans Related nuclear families evolved into clans Functions: to provide mutual aid and care for the less well-off members (widows, orphans, elderly, the sick) Dyadic contracts with unrelated neighbors, such as interest-free loans Clan design follows:

Related nuclear families evolved into clans

Functions: to provide mutual aid and care for the less well-off members (widows, orphans, elderly, the sick)

Dyadic contracts with unrelated neighbors, such as interest-free loans

Clan design follows:

Village Level Functions Village was united for common purpose In 1945, the village was united to defend against bandits United because of weakness of national government (There was a civil war going on between Nationalists and Communist) Set up barricades and night patrols Developed alliances with neighboring villages Hired full-time crop watchers to defend crops against pests and thieves

Village was united for common purpose

In 1945, the village was united to defend against bandits

United because of weakness of national government

(There was a civil war going on between Nationalists and Communist)

Set up barricades and night patrols

Developed alliances with neighboring villages

Hired full-time crop watchers to defend crops against pests and thieves

Leadership and Social Control Social control maintained by gossip, “loss of face” (public shame), and ostracism Legal proceedings and appeals to public officials were rare Disputes were resolved by village elders honored for their wealth and proper behavior rather than government officials Governmental officials were ranked lowest in the village hierarchy. Patron client relations existed between the wealthy and the poor, kin or not.

Social control maintained by gossip, “loss of face” (public shame), and ostracism

Legal proceedings and appeals to public officials were rare

Disputes were resolved by village elders honored for their wealth and proper behavior rather than government officials

Governmental officials were ranked lowest in the village hierarchy.

Patron client relations existed between the wealthy and the poor, kin or not.

Changes under Communist Government Initially, Taitou was left alone Then villages were organized as communes under the leadership of centrally appointed cadres Each village was assigned a specialized crop: Taitou provided wheat, barley, and sweet potatoes Peanuts, soybeans, millet, and fruits and vegetables were not allowed Householders could no longer own small plots of land or raised pigs and other animals Here, members of a similar commune go to work in Longang Farming Commune, Lionang Province

Initially, Taitou was left alone

Then villages were organized as communes under the leadership of centrally appointed cadres

Each village was assigned a specialized crop: Taitou provided wheat, barley, and sweet potatoes

Peanuts, soybeans, millet, and fruits and vegetables were not allowed

Householders could no longer own small plots of land or raised pigs and other animals

Here, members of a similar commune go to work in Longang Farming Commune, Lionang Province

Communist Policies: Impacts Soy oil pressers forced to close as the result of prohibition of soybean production During the 1966 Cultural Revolution, carpentry shops were closed as “capitalist roaders.” By the 1980s, the village enjoyed moderate prosperity from its grain production Opening of a nearby factory provided added employment (but no investment technology) Taitou was passed over for the status of a “model village.” in favor of a nearby impoverished village

Soy oil pressers forced to close as the result of prohibition of soybean production

During the 1966 Cultural Revolution, carpentry shops were closed as “capitalist roaders.”

By the 1980s, the village enjoyed moderate prosperity from its grain production

Opening of a nearby factory provided added employment (but no investment technology)

Taitou was passed over for the status of a “model village.” in favor of a nearby impoverished village

Communist Policies: Liberalization In 1980 and after, Taitou was allowed greater autonomy Private plots were allowed, and “sideline” production increased in livestock, poultry, and crops Small shops appeared, and some men were hired for construction projects outside the village Liberalization had an important impact on village income

In 1980 and after, Taitou was allowed greater autonomy

Private plots were allowed, and “sideline” production increased in livestock, poultry, and crops

Small shops appeared, and some men were hired for construction projects outside the village

Liberalization had an important impact on village income

Liberalization: Results Householders felt themselves to be more in control of their economy—”a rice bowl of their own” replaced the “iron rice bowl” of official policy Women had greater economic independence Cadre influence declined in favor of household autonomous management Redistribution is again being replaced by reciprocity and exchange Television and other media are providing households with alternative sources of information and entertainment

Householders felt themselves to be more in control of their economy—”a rice bowl of their own” replaced the “iron rice bowl” of official policy

Women had greater economic independence

Cadre influence declined in favor of household autonomous management

Redistribution is again being replaced by reciprocity and exchange

Television and other media are providing households with alternative sources of information and entertainment

Conclusion Despite a Communist hiatus, the household remains the basic social economic unit of Taitou Although envy is evident, there are no leveling mechanisms that characterized Mesoamerican peasant There is a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship Wealth distinctions remain predominant

Despite a Communist hiatus, the household remains the basic social economic unit of Taitou

Although envy is evident, there are no leveling mechanisms that characterized Mesoamerican peasant

There is a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship

Wealth distinctions remain predominant

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