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[Xmca-l] Re: "Scaling up" and "Big ideas"


I'm afraid I don't know of any activists you could contact in China. But it
seems to me that the account you have of the "left behind" families leaves
out one possibly relevant piece of information. China still has a system of
"hukou", which involves local registration, and functions something like
the internal passport system did in Tsarist Russia and also in Vygotsky's

For example, my wife's hukou was in the western city of Xi'an. This meant
that she couldn't legally move to the east, towards the coast, and still
receive social services, such as schooling for any children she might have
(because hukou is matrilineal). People from the countryside cannot receive
urban "hukou" unless they either join the army or are admitted to
university (and if they go to university they are often required to return
to the countryside upon graduation unless their alma mater can offer them
employment). Without "hukou", employment is not legal (although possible).
Schooling is out of the question. As usual, there are ways around these
things. My niece's hukou was in a remote rural area, because my
sister-in-law was born there, but after many years of struggle, my
brother-in-law was able to purchase an urban hukou for her, and she now
goes to school in the city with other children.

The obvious parallel for Westerners with no experience of internal
passports is the external passport system--while capital can move freely in
the west, in order to move across borders, a worker has to arrange work
with an employer, and if the worker does so in a way that is perceived by
the government or the locals as "illegal" or undocumented then they may not
receive education and social services and they may have to leave children
behind as a result. This happens in the USA along the border, and the
demagogic campaigns carried out around immigration in places like Arizona
are designed to aggravate it to the point where "self-deportation" occurs.
(You remember that in the last election, Mitt Romney crafted a whole
immigration policy around the persecution of foreign-born workers,
especially those with children.)

I think that, as in the West, the main activist groups you will find around
this issue in China will be lobbying within the government and within
Communist Party for the abolition of "hukou". In some areas of southern
China (e.g. the Pearl River delta, there are actually businessmen who find
it hard to round up cheap labor now. So there are lots of wealthy
industrialists in the CCP now who would like to see the end of hukou and
more flexibility in the labor market, just as some entrepreneurs in Texas
would like to see immigration reform--it will greatly assist the process of
driving down workers' wages.

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 18 March 2015 at 23:11, Peg Griffin <Peg.Griffin@att.net> wrote:

> This thread seems good to ask for advice for this situation:  A young
> woman from China is pursuing a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education
> in the US in a program that provides language and "hidden curriculum" sorts
> of transition support for students visiting from other countries.  She is
> very concerned about the "left behind children" in China.  There is much
> coverage about these families/children in Chinese media and some in US and
> some other countries.  I'm hoping that someone on the list knows of an
> activist and/or research groups that this young woman might locate (in any
> country).  She perseveres and tries hard to find ways toward the solution
> side of problems.
> The problem as she explains it (and as we have been able to find
> information from naïve web searching) is this:  Parents move (from rural
> areas or less prosperous often smaller cities) to larger cities where they
> can make closer to a living wage for the family.  Children are left behind,
> usually with grandparents, because finances and legal requirements make it
> a problem for them to go with the parents.  BUT, at the same time, in the
> places where the children are left behind, public schools the parents went
> to have been closed or are closing; the alternatives require tuition as
> well as book and supply fees.  Money the parents send back to those left
> behind help with increasing costs of food, shelter, health, clothing but
> can seldom spread enough for tuition so children -- especially after grade
> 2 -- have no schooling.  Travel costs usually prohibit more than one
> meeting a year of all three generations. Phone communication is often once
> a week, though. A Chinese term usually translated as "left behind" is used
> a great deal in discussions in China about this.
> Any references to quality readings or people will be greatly appreciated.
> PG on behalf of YL
> -----Original Message-----
> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
> xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Huw Lloyd
> Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2015 5:28 AM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Cc: xmca-l@ucsd.edu
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: "Scaling up" and "Big ideas"
> Sure, Greg.
> Perhaps the author would benefit from reading Illich, "The siren of one
> ambulance can destroy Samaritan attitudes in a whole Chilean town".
> This is simply one example of the failings of formal logic, or as Illich
> refers to it, iatrogenesis (note the genetic semantics).
> Huw
> On 18 March 2015 at 03:51, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > I just came across this nice article by Michael Hobbes in the New
> Republic:
> >
> > http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120178/problem-international-develo
> > pment-and-plan-fix-it
> >
> > In it, he argues against the notion that there are simple big ideas
> > that can easily be scaled up in international development.
> >
> > This seems like an argument that could just as easily have been made
> > about education in any major nation state (and he does touch on
> > education a number of times, but it isn't at the center of his critique).
> >
> > Curious if others agree.
> > -greg
> >
> > --
> > Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> > Assistant Professor
> > Department of Anthropology
> > 880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> > Brigham Young University
> > Provo, UT 84602
> > http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
> >