The Organization of Work in China's Communes

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  03 Sep 1982:
Vol. 217, Issue 4563, pp. 898-903
DOI: 10.1126/science.217.4563.898


There has been speculation that China's communes are undergoing drastic changes and that work patterns are being redefined so as to make individuals or households the basic production units in agriculture. A brief but intensive anthropological study in 17 communes suggests that, although collectivization is still considered to be the ideal form in more advanced areas, responsibility for some tasks is being assigned to households in some poorer communes in an effort to increase production and farm incomes and enhance development. Significant permanent improvements seem hinged to the rise of rural industry, which increasingly rewards individual efforts within the context of a basically collective social organization. The system is complex and is more flexible than it has been in the recent past.