(in China) A small district of local government; in China the basic unit of agricultural organization and rural local government from 1958 to about 1978. Cooperatives were formed when the mutual aid teams that emerged during the land reform of the early 1950s were merged as part of the ‘high tide of socialism’ of 1955–56. During the Great Leap Forward these cooperatives were themselves combined to form large units known as communes which were responsible for planning local farming and for running public services. Commune power was gradually devolved to production brigades after the disastrous harvests of 1959–61. In the Four Modernizations movement communes were virtually abolished.
Subjects: History — Sociology.