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China's one-child policy

China's one-child policy

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Published by JP
it was for a class
it was for a class

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Published by: JP on May 22, 2007
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05/08/2014

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From Out of Control to Total Control:The Urban-Rural Divide and Cultural Impact of China’s One-Child PolicyJ.P. SharpAnthropology 1738Sarah Wagner 
 
Out of Control
Introduction
Malcolm Potts (2006) labeled the One-Child Policy as painful for a generation, but “oneof the most important social policies ever implemented.” From a removed perspective, he isright. China’s population, although still unwieldy, is on a trajectory to become manageable in thefuture. The nation’s economy is thriving, and China is quickly becoming a world power in manyrespects. However, the One-Child Policy has affected its people in a variety of manners notrepresented in that wide-scoped national picture. Anthropologists Faye Ginsberg and RaynaRapp point out that reproduction is not simply a biological issue. It is fundamental to society andtied closely to politics (Ginsberg & Rapp, 1995). How has living with the policy affectedChina’s families, culture, and microeconomy now and for the future? Because the One-ChildPolicy and long-standing cultural ways of life do not often align, what conflicts have arisen andhow are both the people and the government utilizing biotechnology to address these issues?Spanning all these topics, it is impossible to ignore the vast differences between urban and rurallife in China and how these cultural and social variations interact differently with the imposed policy. Ultimately, Potts may be correct is labeling the One-Child Policy as triumphantlyimportant, but the wide-ranging effect of the policy appear to create a much more ambiguousstamp upon Chinese society.
 Background 
China’s population under Mao Zedong’s communist regime during the 1950s, 60s, and70s grew at an increasingly rapid pace. Mao, interested primarily in total production output for launching China into world power status, encouraged population growth (Potts, 2006). Morehands meant more workers for the state machine of national production. Centuries-old traditionsof large farming families thrived, and expanding family lineages continued effortlessly.2
 
Out of ControlUnfortunately, failures in agriculture during the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution leftlarge portions of the massive population starving to death (Greenhalgh, 2003). In order toexplain the population growth and understand how its problems could be dealt with in theensuing years, a field of social scientists stepped forward. These social scientists followed aMarxist schema of population defined by the “two-fold character of production.” This theoryexplained that there were essentially two facets of population—production of people and production of material goods. More people have the capability to produce more goods, which iswhat Mao desired, but a disproportionate relationship between material and human productioncould cause economic failure (Greenhalgh, 2003). Needless to say, although the social scientistsmay have proposed a logical theory of the situation, they were unable to concretely grasp population problems occurring in China through this economic-demographic dialogue model.However, enough common sense existed to implement basic campaigns for reducingfertility rates. The “later, longer, fewer” campaign in the early 1970s promoted later marriage,longer periods between pregnancies, and fewer children overall (Zhu, 2003). This was areasonably successful plan, bringing the total fertility rate (TFR) from 5.9 children/mother in1970 to 2.7 in 1979 when Deng Xiaoping took China’s reigns after Mao’s death (Zhu, 2003).With Deng came the sweeping reforms that have brought China into the realm of an emergingworld power, but with the TFR still above replacement level (2.0 is replacement level), the population was rapidly moving to become exceedingly unmanageable for the desired economicreforms.Here begins the overlapping story of Song Jian, a brilliant military scientist who becamefamous during Mao’s era. His primary work was in cybernetics, a field which encompassesdefense weapons systems and missile science. Under Mao, a very real threat from both the3

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