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"Rustication" : punishment or reward? : study of the life trajectories of the generation of the Cultural Revolution

This thesis contributes to a growing body of research on the impact of China’s rustication programme—a social mobilisation, transferring urban school graduates to rural communities during the Cultural Revolution—on the lives of the Cultural Revolution cohort (CR cohort), and more broadly, to research on the impact of socialist campaigns on social mobility. The analyses of this thesis are based on two national surveys as well as interviews that I conducted with former rusticates and non-rusticates. Distinct from earlier studies which stated that the rustication programme had indiscriminate and adverse effects on all social groups, my results show the process itself was socially stratified: (1) children from the bad class origin and highly-educated families were intensively targeted, and (2) the privileged military families were spared from the mobilisation, and their children were sent to join the People's Liberation Army (PLA). In view of the timing of major life transitions, rusticates lag behind their non-rusticated counterparts and individuals from adjacent cohorts, despite the fact that the delayed attainment of further education was experienced by all members of the CR cohort. After controlling for experience of rustication, children of party officials have a higher chance of obtaining a college degree than those from other social backgrounds. The analysis of the complete work-life histories of the CR cohort as a whole reveals four employment trajectories: Rusticates are more likely to be in the trajectory group characterised by unemployment in the late stage of their career than non-rusticates. Children of party members have a higher likelihood to be in the trajectory dominated by managerial work with short initial spells in the PLA. Rusticates are found to be less satisfied with their lives, their current situation is more deprived and they are more likely to be active in conflict solving, as opposed to non-rusticates and members of adjacent cohorts. Interviews suggest that rusticates viewed the experience of rustication as being an important part of their past and display a thirst for public recognition. Yet, the extent of the transformation that this experience has made in their lives is stratified by their work-life experiences. Non-rusticates reckoned their lives were also affected by the rustication through their close links with rusticates.
Date January 2012
CreatorsLin, Qianhan
ContributorsGershuny, Jonathan
PublisherUniversity of Oxford
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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