Abstract: Based on an “ideal type” analysis of the development trajectory in rural social studies, this article identifies two main paradigms in this area. One of them is based on “field studies”, the other is based on “praxis”. The former type can be characterized as “rubbernecking research”, considering its ignorance of practice-traditions in academic research; while the latter type pursues “research as praxis” with strong emphasis on practice-traditions in academic research. After a critical reflection on the former type, the study reveals that the ignorance of practice-traditions in academic research not only manifests the fading original aspirations for rural social studies, but also explains why these studies are difficult to be integrated into the context of China. In order to “Chinalize” rural social studies, it would be essential to call for a paradigm that focuses on “research as praxis”, forging a concept of a community of shared future. In contrast with the conventional field study-based rural social studies and the interventional action research which is sometimes forcible, this research paradigm goes well beyond the induced blind spots and traps of topics, such as “localization of rural social studies”, “how far is rural social studies from science”, as well as the discussions and debates over methodologies and disciplines, aiming to promote the mutual cultivation of academic research and praxis through prudent and pragmatic field practices.
Key Words: Rural Social Study; Rubbernecking Research; Research as Praxis; Ideal Future; Practical Characteristic
The Chinese version appeared in China Rural Survey, 2019(01).