Social and Cultural Changes 1947-76

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  • Created on: 22-05-16 10:02

Women: Traditional attitudes

- Ruled by Confucian patriarchal values

- Foot binding (a method of breaking and regrowing women's feet to fit into tiny shoes) was banned by the Communist party

- 1949 - Clause 9 of the Communist Common Program promises removal of women's restrictions for equality

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Women: Marriage Law (1950)

- Choice in marriage

- Freedom to divorce

- Women have the right to property

- Concubinage and polygamy banned

- Some trad. views still held onto

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Women : Collectivisation and communes

- Takes away everyone's right to own land - makes the previous allowance for women to own land seem pointless

- Few support for childare and domestic jobs

- Earn fewer work points than men 

- Divorce rates at 60% in some areas

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Women: and the Family

- Family seen as a Confucian value and Communists seek to destroy it

- The concept of family was included in the four olds and attacked in the C. Rev.

- Female cadres encourage restriction on number of children 

- One-child policy 1979

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Women: Extent of change

- Less arranged marriages 

- Reduction in the power of parents

- More women in paid employment 

- Entitled to the same pay as men 

- Women in the workforce 8% to 32% - still only represent 1/3 workforce

- Oppurtunities for management still limited  

- Propaganda shows women's needs being equal to men's - not all women want their needs to be exactly the same as men's

- C. Rev. ignores gender issues - harder for women to get into the RG 

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Women: Changing traditional views

- Use all of China's Women Federation to train cadres in new laws

- Hard to get equal pay in agric. areas

- Cadres have to enforce laws in agric. areas

- Attitudes slow to change in Muslim provinces (arranged marriages)

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Education: Growth of literacy

- Most peasants illiterate before the Communists

- Mid-50s - national system of primary education - literacy rates from 20% 1949, to 50% 1960, to 64% 1964

- Progress slows down during C. Rev with literacy rate only up to 70%

- Progress would have been faster if less had been spent on the Korean War - only 6.4% budget goes towards culture and education in 1952

- 1956 - less than 1/2 7-16 year olds in full-time education

- Best schools reserved for children of high-ranking officials

- Need for technical experts increases focus on science and technology and expansion of higher ed.

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Education: Pinyin

- 1956 - adopted as a modernised form of Mandarin to assist the spread of literacy 

- Zhou Youyang, a university economics prof., was asked to oversee the introduction of Pinyin

- Straightforward to learn to read and write

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Education: Collapse of ed. (1966)

- Closure of schools and unis 1966-70 means the education of 130 million children stops (Red Guard and rectification campaigns

- Hard to restore confidence into the education system after the C. Rev. - attempts made during Zhou's Four Modernisations

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Health: Barefoot Doctors

- During C. Rev., 1 million medical trainees dispersed into the countryside

- Trainees given 6 months of basic study before being sent out to teach about preventative health, family planning and treating common diseases

- Trying to tackle endemic diseases due to high mortality rates in rural China

- Also wanted doctors to understand rural conditions and prevent any bourgeois mindsets

- 1976 - 90% villages involved 

- Welcomed by peasantry and was a great propaganda success

- Cheap scheme with training only lasting 6 months and wages paid by local villages

- Received endorsement from the World Health Organisation

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Health: Successes and Failures


- 1952 - 'Patriotic Health Movements' set up to educate peasants about hygiene and spread of disease - they are examples of m. mobilisation using posters, leafets and films

- Germ warfare scare of the Korean War used to get these campaigns off the ground

- Some success in reducing number of deaths from waterborne diseases with people diggng deeper wells and disposing of human waste more effectively

- Campaign on control of snails due to their spread of schistosomasis

- Life expectancy rises from 41 in 1950 to 62 by 1970


- Emphasis only on prevention rather than cure due to few adequate hospitals

- Ecological damage of sparrowcide outweighs any positives

- Hospitals better in cities with few doctors in rural areas

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- Mao wants to create a new proletarian culture reflecting the concerns of ordinary people 

Attacks on trad. culture in towns and countryside:

- Communist propoganda emphasises that 1949 is a fresh start - peasants working collectively for a better future

- Main aims behind policies are to undermine trad. customs and Confuciansim

- Collectives and communes give CPC greater control over peasant lives - attended meetings and shows put on by touring 'agit-prop' groups

- June 1966 - Chen Boda's atricle in the 'People's Daily' urges RG to 'sweep away the monsters and demons' so RG begin to hunt the 'four olds'

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Culture: Jiang Qing

- Jiang put in charge of culture during C. Rev. 

- Believed her previous career as an actressgave her special insight into the performing arts - Uses her power for personal vendettas

- Rigid censorship imposed - only 'culturally pure' works were permitted, Western works banned 

- Piano music and oil paintings still allowed as they suited Jiang's personal taste

- Only works related to contemporary themes permitted - trad. works are updated 

- Unwilling artists sent to re-education camps

- Commissioned 8 opera ballets, focused on the triumph of workers over their oppressors - broadcast frequently over radio and in schools - dominated Chinese cinema (Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy 1974 had 7.3 billion viewings)

- Model works shown to huge audiences who dared not to criticise

- Peasant women in Huxian trained to produce wall paintings promoting the GLF adn C. Rev.

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Culture: Jiang Qing (ctd.)

- Quality and quantity of artistic work falls due to lack of freedom of expression

- No substantial body of art used to replace art which had been destroyed - only 124 novels published  due to fear of repercussions from censors

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Religion: Buddhism

- Article 5 of the Common Program said there would be religious freedom 


- Targeted specifically as it was the main religion of Tibet

- Contemplative nature of Buddhism makes it difficult for Mao to mass mobilise people

- Lamaism forbidden from being expressed in public and Tibetan language replaced with Mandarin

- 1959 - PLA arrest demonstrators and crush uprising - leaders executed

- Buddhist monks and nuns targeted - dragged from monasteries and beaten 

- Monasteries turned into administrative buildings or controlled by the Chinese Buddhist ***.

- Dalai Lama flees to India to campaign on behalf of Tibet

- 6000 monasteries destroyed during C. Rev. and thousands killed 

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Religion: Confucianism

- Had dominated Chinese philosophy for 2500 years

- Didn't believe in God but its emphasis on authority and the family structure was criticised by intellectuals and the Communist Party

- Beijing students travel to Confucious' home to ransack monuments

- Jiang Qing revives the anti-Confucius campaign in 1973

- Blamed for China's lack of progress but was deeply engrained within Chinese culture 

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Religion: Christianity

- Catholicism and Protestantism gained foothold in China in 19th century due to Protestant missionaries 

- 1949 arrests meant most Protestants leave the country but the Pope had urged Catholics to stay in China

- Many church buildings closed and property confiscated - propaganda attacks church as an institution 

- Christians given the right to go to Patriotic Churches that were controlled by the regime 

- Persecution intensifies during the C. Rev. - wave of arrests of clergys and a ban on public worship

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Religion: Islam

- Seen as a threat to Communism due to its belief in God and resistance to women's equality

- Xinjiang was home to many who opposed Chinese rule - received special attention in the reunification campaign 1950 - followed by settling of large number of Han Chinese to dilute cultural identity

- Chinese Islamic ***. set up but many mosques closed and leaders humilated in public with struggle sessions 

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Religion: Ancestor Worship

- Belief that it is the responsibility of the living to sustain the spirits of the dead - maintaining graves and setting up ancestral temples - the dead then give the living good fortune 

- Communists denounce this as superstition of old China 

- Difficult to control as it was so deeply engrained in Chinese culture, especially after dismantling of communes in 1960s

- Government have a harsh reaction to the grief after Zhou's death as it was reminiscent of ancestor worship

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