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The sociopolitical patterns of agricultural modernization in China : stepping on transition pathways


This dissertation takes as its point of departure the recent renewal of the interest of the Chinese state in agricultural development. The approach of this research is twofold: political and sociological. The political approach focuses on the analysis of agricultural modernization policies between 2004 and 2014, with the aim of understanding the frames of reference of agricultural modernization promoted by the central government, which is characterized by two main goals – food security and economic development – and three main levers – science and technology, industries and the rural exodus. The spreading of this dominant frame of reference has effects on the sociological patterns of agricultural production, which are explored by the second approach of this research in four targeted areas: Beijing, Shandong, Jiangxi and Ningxia. Drawing on fieldwork and interviews, this sociological analysis investigates the modalities of the reinvolvement of Chinese government officials in rural areas through the implementation of policies aimed at modernizing agricultural production and examines the pattern of relationships and the roles played by political and economic stakeholders in the modernization process. The analysis of the sociopolitical frames built in the course of the modernization of agricultural production enables to identify the features of the agricultural modernization pathway China is engaging on. In particular, the established patterns of power and institutions in rural areas led to the establishment of roadblocks that impede transition towards social and environmental sustainability of agricultural production.

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