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«Juanwen Yuan Thesis committee Thesis supervisor Prof. dr. A. Niehof Professor of Sociology of Consumers and Households Wageningen University Thesis ...»

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Household or family time Each family or household has its own life history. In each stage, the household has different needs, resources, and livelihood activities. Pennartz and Niehof (1999) note that family time designates the timing of such life course events as marriage, the birth of a child, a young adult’s departure from home, and the transition of individuals into different family roles, as the family moves through its life course.

The household’s life course Pennartz and Niehof (1999) suggest the use of a household’s life course approach, with the household’s life course starting at its formation, and ending with the founders’ exit. Li (2005a) distinguishes four stages for Chinese farmer households in the 1970s: the beginning stage, the maturing stage, the matured stage and the aging stage.

(Casimir, 2001) says that a stage in the life course should be taken into account as an attribute of the household, and that it is a determining factor in the allocation of household labour. Hence, the division of labour in the household is related to the household’s stage in the life course. For example, at a certain stage, grandparents and other relatives may play a role in the care for children. Verma 42

Chapter 3

(2001) mentions that older women often take care of grandchildren, using this important labour input to negotiate other resources in return.

Lu (2005) has classified two marriage cohorts: the 1970 cohort was defined as those who were married between 1965 and 1979, while the 1990 cohort was defined as those who were married after 1985. She found that the effects of conjugal resources on household labour allocation do not vary with the different social-cultural contexts of the 1970s and 1990s.

Life course is a very important concept in this research. Households in different stages of their life course have different needs and resources, and different attitudes to agricultural production, and adopt different strategies in household livelihood production. Therefore, the stage of the life course influences a household’s division of labour and availability of resources. According to research in China (ACWF, 1991), a household is usually not well-off in the first stage of its life course.

3.6 Conceptual framework and operationalisation

3.6.1 Household The household is the central unit of analysis in this research, defined as a “coresidential unit, usually family-based in some way, which takes care of resource management and primary needs of its members” (Rudie, 1995: 228). I use this definition because of its emphasis on joint resource management for basic needs, which is important because a household is a key agent in linking resources and livelihood. The household is seen as the locus for livelihood generation, taking into account the debates on the relationship between gender and household (Kabeer, 1991; 1995) and gendered access to land and other resources (Agarwal, 1994a;

1994b).

3.6.2 Livelihood Following Niehof and Price (2001), I see livelihood as an open system, interacting with other systems and using various resources and assets to produce livelihood, with the household as the locus of livelihood generation. Niehof (2004) conceptualizes livelihood as having the following components: inputs, output, purpose, activities, agency, quality, environment, and locus.

In this research, special attention is given to household land use for onfarm livelihood activities, because land use remains a key component of rural livelihoods. An emerging livelihood activity in rural China is migrant labour.

Migration is an off-farm livelihood activity.

3.6.3 Gender Gender refers to the psychological, social, and cultural differences between men and women (Giddens, 1993; Williams et al., 1994). In this research, I will focus on

–  –  –

gender in the division of labour, the access to and decision-making on land, land use, agricultural production, migration, and extension service provision.

3.6.4 Social stratification In this research, I will look at how the emergent differences in household structures, income, gender roles, land use, and livelihoods lead to an increased social stratification, defined as a “hierarchical ordering of positions in terms of power, privilege and prestige”(Kohn and Slomczynski, 1990).

3.6.5 Life course Because in present-day China, children’s schooling plays a crucial role in the farming household’s livelihood strategies, I will define the household’s life course

stages as follows:

Stage 1: the formation stage – the families concerned are comprised of a husband, a wife and child(ren). The oldest child in the family is below school age (seven years of age). Usually, the new independent household is established when the first child is born, after which land and other properties are distributed to it.

Stage 2: the maturing stage, or school-age stage, or growing stage – the families concerned have an oldest child who is 7-18 years of age.

Stage 3: the matured stage – the oldest child or all children are above 18 years of age, these children are considered as part of the household labour force.

Stage 4: the post-parental stage – when all of the children have their own households and have left home, the parents stay alone or stay with only one adult (married) child.





Figure 3.1 presents the conceptual framework of the research.

In this framework, households are defined as resource managing units within which the members’ daily needs are provided for by the development and implementation of livelihood strategies. In a rural setting, where livelihoods are agriculture-based, land use and the use of agricultural technologies are crucial for the success or failure of livelihood strategies. Both gender and life course are crosscutting variables because they determine, to a large extent, the access to land, as well as the labour potential and allocation of the household. All these processes interface with the natural and institutional environment, including the economic environment (livelihood options, migration) and the policy environment (the HRS that allows households to access and use land). Livelihoods are generated by the allocation of resources and the use of capitals (see extensive livelihood literature), which include physical, financial, human, and social resources. Social stratification reflects differential livelihood outcomes and – at the same time – determines access to the resources (notable land, capital) needed for livelihood generation and the implementation of livelihood strategies. The assumption is that socio-economic differentiation (on which social stratification is based) has increased and that this is – at least partly – related to the introduction of the HRS. Hence, the contents of the boxes relate to

44 Chapter 3

each other in ways indicated by the arrows. The arrows thus reflect the definitions of the key concepts of household, gender, and livelihood (Ellis, 2000; Niehof, 2004).

The study is not based on one grand or meta theory from which hypotheses are derived and tested. It draws on a number of interrelated theoretical frameworks, notably those of livelihood theory and gender theory (Niehof and Price, 2001, Niehof, 2004) for the linkage between gender and livelihood; the theoretical arguments about the household as the locus for livelihood generation;

and the debates on gender and household (Kabeer 1991, 1995), gendered access to land, and other resources (Agarwal, 1994a).

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3.7 Objectives and research questions The first objective of this research is to identify the mechanisms of the interrelated changes in farming households, gender roles, livelihoods, and household land use practices upon the implementation of the HRS and in a changing social context.

The second objective is to gain understanding about how these changes at the household level lead to increasing socio-economic heterogeneity among households and affect social stratification in rural society. The third objective is to make available insights about the emerging farming household heterogeneity that the extension sector can benefit from, in order to improve its performance. The

specific objectives and research questions are as follows:

Objective 1: to gain insight into the changes in farming households since the introduction of the HRS.

Research questions:

1. What was the character of the Chinese farming household in the collective period?

2. How was the land allocated to and used by households?

3. What are the changes in farming households after the HRS, in terms of household structure, composition, size, sources of income and livelihood (including land use), and gender roles?

Objective 2: to analyze the relations between the changes in the household, gender roles, livelihood, and land use strategies, as well as their impacts on rural society.

Research questions:

4. How do different household types influence decision-making on land use?

5. How do the different stages in the household’s life course influence decisionmaking on land use?

6. How does gender influence the farming household’s decision-making on land use?

7. How do gender and the life course stage influence the different livelihood strategies?

8. What are the impacts of the changing household livelihood strategies on rural society?

Objective 3: To indicate how agricultural extension policies can better accommodate the increasing heterogeneity in farming households, particularly regarding household land use.

Research questions:

9. What are the current agricultural extension policies and delivery mechanisms, and how appropriate are these, as seen from a household perspective?

10. What are the implications of diversified land use and livelihood strategies for agricultural extension?

–  –  –

This chapter provides a general description of Guizhou province, as well as more detailed information on the study area, the municipality of Kaizuo. The focus is on their demographic profile, natural resources, land use, livelihood, and cultural aspects. There were various reasons to select the municipality of Kaizuo in Guizhou province as the research area. First, the researcher has experience and contacts in the region, because she worked in a project funded by the International Development Research Center (IDRC). Some secondary data are available, as well as a familiarity with the study’s region. The area itself has a profile appropriate to the research topic. This includes preliminary evidence of the coupling of a feminization of agriculture with male migration, linked to the reforms undertaken from the late 1970’s onward and the instilling of the HRS. The province has a narrow land base and a high population density; therefore, arable land per capita is very limited. The land per capita in the municipality of Kaizuo is a little higher than on average in the province of Guizhou. Productivity is very low, however, and the people mainly depend on natural resources. Due to the aforementioned factors, out-migration from the rural areas has also become a prominent feature of the municipality of Kaizuo.

4.1 Guizhou province Guizhou province is a mountainous province, located in the South-west of China (Figure 4.1). It is a karst limestone area, and there is no plateau in Guizhou province. The average altitude is 1100 m. The total land area is 0.1762 million km2.

The cultivated land is 4,487,455 ha, accounting for 1.7 mu (15 mu=1 ha) per capita (GPG, 2009). The forest coverage is 39.93 percent. Water resources are rich but difficult to use in this karst area. The province is also rich in coal resources.

Figure 4.1: Location of the municipality of Kaizuo (Tyler, 2006)

–  –  –

There are nine prefectures (cities, regions), 88 counties, and 1451 townships in Guizhou province. The total population was 39.76 million in 2007, among which the rural population amounted to 28.52 million, accounting for 71.8 percent (GSGSSB, 2008). There are 49 ethnic groups, the main ethnic groups being Miao, Buyi, and Dong, who together account for 38 percent of the total population.

In 2007, the main grain crops were rice and maize (3.2 million ha), the orchard area took up 0.12 million ha, while the area cultivated with edible oil crops covered 0.57 million ha. The meat produced amounted to 2.23 million tons (GSGSSB, 2008). The provincial government provided 54.5 billions yuan (6.8 yuan=1US$) for agricultural development. Animal husbandry accounted for 33.7 percent of the increased agricultural income in 2008 (GPG, 2008) The main income sources are from wine production and tobacco production. The government is promoting tourism. In 2007, there were 62.6 million visits by tourists (GSGSSB, 2008). Migration is very popular in the rural areas and many migrants send remittances. In 2006, there were 780,000 migrants (GPLSSD, 2007), while in 2004, the amount of remittances amounted to 6.9 billion yuan (Jingqianzaixian, 2004).

In 2007, 84.91 percent of rural people joined the rural medical cooperative (GSGSSB, 2008). The income is 2374 yuan per capita in the rural area. The average house size takes up 24.5 m2 per person. The ownership of washing machines, motorcycles, colour TVs, telephones, mobiles, and refrigerators in rural households accounts for 33.6 percent, 17.2 percent, 72.9 percent, 37.8 percent, 34.2 percent, and

3.8 percent, respectively (GSGSSB, 2008).

4.2 The municipality of Kaizuo The municipality of Kaizuo belongs to Changshun County, in the Qiannan Prefecture, in Guizhou province (Figure 4.1). In the Autonomous Qiannan Prefecture, Miao and Buyi groups are the main ethnic groups; more than half of the population belongs to these two groups. Kaizuo is dominated by Buyi people. The seven villages selected include both Buyi and Han people, who are in the majority.

All the villagers like to build houses next to each other, located in a small circle.

Nowadays, elderly Buyi people can still speak the Buyi language and wear traditional garb.



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