Dr. Lior Rosenberg
"The Exemplary Society in Contemporary Rural China"
While national models, a powerful ideological-political means for mass mobilization during Mao era, have lost their prominence, local models and exemplariness are still kicking and officially pushed. The exemplary society in rural China is ubiquitous and models’ coronation by higher government levels is still a regular ceremonial activity rewarding individuals, households, intra-village groups and whole villages, praising them for achievements and marking them publicly as a subject for emulation. Modelling still guides theories of learning in today's’ China and are embedded in rural governance and officials' conduct. At the same time, models and exemplariness represent the historical China. And yet, since the end of the Mao era, very little attention has been given to researching the exemplary society in rural China.
Based on qualitative and quantitative methodologies, this research will frame the scope of the rural exemplary society; discuss the meaning of becoming a model and serving as an exemplar in contemporary rural China; reveal the politics behind the exemplary society; and will examine to what extent a governance practice existing for thousands of years can be reconciled with a rapidly changed rural China.
It is expected that this research will not only provide a better understanding of the exemplary society phenomenon in China but also a better understanding of larger issues such as state-society relations; rural governance in its wider sense; state capacity; and China’s transition into modernity. It will also shed light on China’s most ambitious attempt to reshape the countryside and daily lives in the rural areas by transferring villagers from villages into urban-style residential compounds.