Yixin Xu

Thesis Title: Political participation, representation, and women’s access to land in rural China

Abstract: In China, rural women as a social group are disproportionately disadvantaged economically, especially in access to land. In rural China, land is collectively owned by villages and contracted to villagers for use based on allocation decisions made by village collective institutions and processes. In such context, and given the plausible mutually enhancing relationship between individuals’ rights to land and their political participation and representation, a conceptual link between inequality in rural Chinese women’s access to land and their lack of political participation and representation in these institutions and processes, can be proposed. No previous studies have systematically empirically tested this hypothesis, partly because a unitary model of household resource allocation remains dominant in China.

I propose a primarily qualitative study to examine the issue empirically from a feminist economics perspective, paying attention to the impacts of sociocultural context. Interview data will be collected from women and village officials in three socioeconomically distinct villages in rural China, and will be analyzed thematically and comparatively. Insights gained will be useful for promoting female empowerment, gender equity, and the development of a more inclusive local institutional environment in rural societies in China and beyond.

First Supervisor: Charlotte Goodburn