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A comparative study of the impact of two state-led urbanisation strategies on the livelihoods of surplus rural labourers: case studies from Tianjin and Zhejiang in China

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

This thesis compares the impact of two modes of state-led urbanisation on the livelihoods of resettled rural villagers with case studies from Tianjin and Zhejiang. In the ongoing debate over the path for rural development and human welfare in China, it is unclear whether to integrate the rural area into the urban area or whether to develop the rural economy independently. Based on eleven months of fieldwork with resettled villagers in Huaming Town (Tianjin), and Dongheng Village, Wusi Village and Qingyanliu Village (Zhejiang), this research analyses the two different livelihood patterns generated by the two antithetical approaches to rural development, the urban-integration approach and rural indigenous development approach. Focusing on villagers’ capabilities, possession of assets and activities, this research examines the imbalances in rural resource redistribution at three levels, among social groups, between villages and across the rural-urban divide. This research shows that the urban-integration approach leads to a livelihood pattern which relies on rental income from ownership of properties, leaving unskilled farmers with very limited livelihood strategies; in contrast, the rural indigenous development approach creates a livelihood pattern with a balanced dependence on labour and ownership income, generating a diversified livelihood pattern for resettled farmers. Furthermore, this thesis raises deeper structural questions about the driving forces behind the land rights reforms, which release the liquidity from the rural farming land. It argues that the structure of incentives in the governance system, particularly at the village committee level, plays a key role in reorganising and redistributing rural and capacity for village intervention is also critical for the success of the rural development programme; resources; at the same time, having the space and capacity for village intervention is also critical for the success of the rural development programme.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date2017


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