ABSTRACT

There has been an enormous amount of debate in China on the implications of the rural reforms. Critics seem to have regarded them as contrary to, or at least threatening, the interests of socialism and the collective. Those who support the reforms have admitted that they may increase inequality, but argue that 'some have to get rich first', that collectivism should not mean 'everyone sharing the same poverty' and that already the reforms have produced a general rise in the standard of living. There has been less interest, at least in China, in the repercussions of the rural reforms on relations within the household and in their implications for the sexual division of labour and women's roles. These issues have however been taken up by students of China in the West (Hazard, 1982, Stacey, 1983, Croll, 1984, Wolf, 1985) and it is with them that this chapter is concerned.