chapter  7
20 Pages

Do village cadres and villagers think alike?

Do leaders and the masses in a given society share the same or similar opinions, attitudes, values, and political beliefs? This is a question often asked in democracies. Leaders in a democratic society are directly elected by the masses, appointed by elected officials, or appointed by an elected legislature. They are supposed to share the same or similar values and political beliefs with most of the people they govern. If they show a significant discrepancy or ‘disconnect’ with the masses with regard to their fundamental political values and attitudes, it raises serious questions of democratic representation and the stability of the system. Rural southern Jiangsu province in China is not a democratic setting. As seen in Chapter 6, Chinese village officials or cadres include both villagers’ committee members and village party committee members. While VC members are elected by villagers, village party committee members, including the village party secretary, are not popularly elected. Even though VC members are officially elected by regular villagers, owing to serious institutional constraints and limitations, the democratic nature of the rural elections in southern Jiangsu province is questionable. Still, it is interesting to find out about the political attitude congruence between village cadres and regular villagers in the setting of rural southern Jiangsu province. Do the village cadres and the masses in southern Jiangsu villages share the same or similar political values and attitudes? The level of attitude congruence between the two groups can tell us, in part, the relationships between village cadres and the masses they lead and whether the village cadres can effectively govern the villages.