The Rural Developmental State: Modernization Campaigns and Peasant Politics in China, Taiwan and South Korea

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The Rural Developmental State: Modernization Campaigns and Peasant Politics in China, Taiwan and South Korea

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Title: The Rural Developmental State: Modernization Campaigns and Peasant Politics in China, Taiwan and South Korea
Author: Looney, Kristen
Citation: Looney, Kristen. 2012. The Rural Developmental State: Modernization Campaigns and Peasant Politics in China, Taiwan and South Korea. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: This dissertation analyzes the causes of rural development in East Asia, as well as the relative success or failure of rural development policies among East Asian countries, providing detailed case studies of China, Taiwan, and South Korea. These countries exhibit a range of variation on the dependent variable, rural development, which is defined as improvements in rural living standards, agricultural production and the village environment. Taiwan in the 1950s-1970s is the most successful case; South Korea in the 1950s-1970s is a less successful case; and China evolves from a failed case during the Maoist period (1949-1976) to a more successful case during the reform period (post-1978), but still one that is less successful than either Taiwan or South Korea. This study expands and challenges the developmental state literature, which, despite its contribution to explaining industrialization in East Asia, generally ignores the role of the state in rural development, fails to account for variation among East Asian countries, and excludes China from the comparative analysis. Based on two years of fieldwork and data culled from interviews, archives, and libraries, this dissertation advances a theory that specifies the varying contributions of land reform, farmers’ organizations, and modernization campaigns in rural development. This study shows that the reversal of urban-biased policies is possible in authoritarian states but does not account for variation in rural development outcomes; that variables such as decentralization and democratic checks on authority are not necessary conditions for rural development; that land reform is less important than previous studies have assumed; and that farmers’ organizations are critical to successful rural development. This study also shows that rural modernization campaigns, defined as policies that demand high levels of bureaucratic and popular mobilization to transform “traditional” ways of life in the countryside, have played a central role in East Asian rural development. This finding contradicts the developmental state model’s assumption of technical-rational policymaking, and runs counter to studies that portray state intervention in rural society as predatory or even pathologically destructive. Finally, this dissertation reveals a dynamic process of regional policy learning and modeling that has largely gone undocumented.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9807308
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