The New Rural Elites: Reinvent rural community and enhance rural communication inclusiveness


After the reform and opening up, Chinese rural is facing population migration, land transfer, and cultural change. Due to capital, political and cultural reasons, farmers are gradually 'atomicized'. Rural community is coming to an end. Rural communication is gradually diminishing and inclusiveness is being weakened. The regional, value and emotional communities, which rural communication relies on, gradually disintegrate. At the same time, a number of new rural elites have emerged.

In this study, the author discuss the role of the new rural elites in reshaping rural community and improving cultural inclusiveness through case study. Xinhua printing industry, which originated in Xinhua County, Hunan Province, China, employs over 200,000 people in the same county. While Xinhua County has 1.4 million population and was once state-level impoverished. This industry accounts for more than 70% of the Chinese printing market. Now Xinhua County is famous for the printing industry in China. At the meantime, it has cultivated a number of new rural elites. The author has been following up this case for 4 years.

Before the reform and opening up, the rural community provided people, including the new elites, with stable capital accumulation containing social capital, material capital, and human capital through communication. It continued to provide emotional sustenance. Cultural sites such as ancestral shrines and schools in the countryside were readily available. However, after the market-oriented reform of the society, the rural community, communication, cohesion and tolerance are all weakened. This triggered the self-awareness and actions of the new rural elite. They are reshaping the rural community in two ways: capital introduction and cultural reconstruction. They promote rural communication and enhance cohesion and tolerance. The purpose of the new rural elites is cultural reconstruction, not capital profit. So as to protect the value formation, information flow, and cultural innovation of the rural community. This study attempts to elucidate a dynamic theoretical framework addressing how capital and culture affect rural communication and the shaping of rural communities, inclusiveness and new rural elites.