One Country, Two Societies: Rural-Urban Inequality in Contemporary China

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This timely and important collection of original essays analyzes China’s foremost social cleavage: the rural-urban gap. It is now clear that the Chinese communist revolution, though professing dedication to an egalitarian society, in practice created a rural order akin to serfdom, in which 80 percent of the population was effectively bound to the land. China is still struggling with that legacy. The reforms of 1978 changed basic aspects of economic and social life in China’s villages and cities and altered the nature of the rural-urban relationship. But some important institutions and practices have changed only marginally or not at all, and China is still sharply divided into rural and urban castes with different rights and opportunities in life, resulting in growing social tensions.

The contributors, many of whom conducted extensive fieldwork, examine the historical background of rural-urban relations; the size and trend in the income gap between rural and urban residents in recent years; aspects of inequality apart from income (access to education and medical care, the digital divide, housing quality and location); experiences of discrimination, particularly among urban migrants; and conceptual and policy debates in China regarding the status and treatment of rural residents and urban migrants.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674036321
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 2/15/2010
  • Series: Harvard Contemporary China Series, #16
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 460
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin King Whyte is Professor of Sociology at Harvard University.

Wang Feng is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Irvine.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 The Paradoxes of Rural-Urban Inequality in Contemporary China Martin King Whyte 1

I China's Rural-Urban Gap: Setting the Context

2 Small-Town China: A Historical Perspective on Rural-Urban Relations Hanchao Lu 29

3 Rural Migrant Workers and China's Differential Citizenship: A Comparative Institutional Analysis Wu Jieh-min 55

II China's Rural-Urban Income Gap

4 How Large is China's Rural-Urban Income Gap? Terry Sicular Yue Ximing Björn A. Gustafsson Li Shi 85

5 Reestimating the Income Gap between Urban and Rural Households in China Li Shi Luo Chuliang 105

III The Rural-Urban Gap in Access to Social Resources

6 Rural-Urban Disparities in Access to Primary and Secondary Education under Market Reforms Emily Hannum Meiyan Wang Jennifer Adams 125

7 Disparities in Health Care and Health Status: The Rural-Urban Gap and Beyond Winnie Yip 147

8 The Narrowing Digital Divide: A View from Rural China Rachel Murphy 166

9 The Impact of Variations in Urban Registration within Cities Li Limei Li Si-ming 188

IV The Experience of Being a Migrant in Contemporary China

10 Boundaries of Inequality: Perceptions of Distributive Justice among Urbanites, Migrants, and Peasants Wang Feng 219

11 Rural Prejudice and Gender Discrimination in China's Urban Job Market Lei Guang Fanmin Kong 241

12 Gender and Citizenship Inequality: The Story of Two Migrant Women Arianne Gaetano 265

13 Ethnicity, Rurality, and Status: Hukou and the Institutional and Cultural Determinants of Social Status in Tibet Xiaojiang Hu Miguel A. Salazar 287

V Evolving Policy toward Rural Migrants and the Rural-Urban Gap

14 Bringing the City Back In: TheChinese Debate on Rural Problems Lei Guang 311

15 Renovating the Great Floodgate: The Reform of China's Hukou System Fei-Ling Wang 335

Notes 367

Contributors 443

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