Changing rules for reproduction in post-socialist China
Frido Wenten (London School of Economic and Political Science)
Paper short abstract:
The paper proposes to approach China's post-socialist transition through the lens of a change in rules for reproduction. Virtues and shortcomings of such a perspective will be illustrated with the examples of reforms in land rights and urban labour relations since the 1980s.
Paper long abstract:
The paper proposes to approach China's post-socialist transition through the lens of a change in rules for reproduction (Brenner, 1997). Such a vantage point enables us to trace the gradual and sectorally and geographically asynchronous process of direct producers becoming dependent on (securing their reproduction through) market relations - i.e. to understand the re-emergence of capitalism in China. A focus on the political reconfiguration of horizontal and vertical class relations that underpinned this dynamic also helps to explain the test-running, slowing down or halting of reforms before rolling them out on a wider scale. I will indicatively illustrate the implications of this approach by comparing post-1978 land reforms to the gradual emergence of capitalist labour relations in the urban economy (leaving aside the non-agricultural rural economy). I will finally sketch the virtues (explaining transition periods) and shortcomings (explaining intra-capitalist variation) of this approach to assess its utility for theorising development more generally.
30 years after 1989: re-assessing models of market transition