How to Define Property Rights? A Social Documentation of the Privatization of Collective Ownership
Zhe Xiaoye 1  
,   Chen Yingying 1  
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Chinese Academy of Sciences
Publication date: 2009-09-29
Polish Sociological Review 2009;167(3):351–372
Since rural China began to implement economic structural reforms in the late 1970s, township and village collective enterprises (TVEs) have attained significant expansion for a long time. They have became not only sections with most rapid economic development, but also experimental sites for the rural reconstruction of “common prosperity.” However, since the mid-1990s, TVEs have been experiencing a property rights transformation of rapid privatization. One of the noteworthy social consequences of this transformation is how the redefinition of property rights may lead to new differentiation and distribution of wealth and resources, in whose hands will wealth concentrate, and whether the concentration process will lead to new inequalities. Exploring the social process of property rights definition can help our understanding and analysis of these questions. Moreover, empirical materials concerning this process are complete and abundant, furnishing the sufficient conditions for new examinations and summaries on their basis.
This paper is part of the “The Social Process of Property Rights Transformation” project funded by the Ford Foundation and the Social Sciences Academy of China, and presented at the “Creating Poverty and Wealth in Contemporary China,” (Yale University, January 6–8, 2006). We thank Prof. Deborah Davis,Wang Feng, Xueguang Zhou for their comments. Parts of this paper have been published in She Hui Xue Yan Jiu No. 4, 2005 and presented at the “Organizational Sociology Workshop” hosted by Shanghai University, October, 2005. We thank Xueguang Zhou, Shiding Liu, Jing Zhang, Hanlin Li, Jingdong Qu and Xia Guang for their comments, criticisms and suggestions.