Global to Village| A Dreamland or the Land of Broken Dreams: Juxtaposed Conceptions of the Good Life in Heyang

Xiaoxing Zhang


China’s rural villages, many of which are undergoing a great transformation from their communitarian past toward their fractured present, are significant sites of heightened inequalities unleashed during the reform era. Under the predominance of reproduced mythologies of rustic ideal, alternative conceptions of the good life derived from rural China remain largely disguised, marginalized and under studied. Following the ritual view of communication, this article examines the emergence, coexistence, and interplays of four distinctive conceptions of the good life in Heyang Village, a rural frontier that epitomizes the intensifying commodification of the countryside. By situating these juxtaposed conceptions within the transforming social relations of rural China, it is trying to unveil the hidden power struggles in the past and present countryside and to manifest the complexities of contemporary Chinese rural issues. In the end, this article concludes with a reflection on the conceptual significance of “the good life” for critical communication scholarship.


good life, urban–rural relation, uneven development, rural cultural industry, communitarian tradition, ritual view of communication, rural China

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