Elizabeth Croll's "From Heaven to Earth" examines the images, policies and experiences of development in China, and more specifically shows how the peasant experience of revolution and reform has been greatly affected by their conceptualizations of time and change. Beginning with the first major reforms introduced into China's villages in 1979, numerous changes have been made in the translation and practice of reform policies. These reforms have in fact become so paradoxical and various, that analysts have had to modify their initial judgments of these complex changes over the years.
Croll takes a unique analytical approach to the subject of rural development policy in China by examining this issue in the context of peasant dreams of development--dreams which prove central to how this population views their family and individual experience. Croll also examines the desires which motivate peasant households in China; the strenuous demands that current reforms have forced upon peasant families; and the ways in which peasant households maximize their resources in the face of reform and rural development.
In its examination of the peasant family and household, the peasant individual and their relationship with the state, "From Heaven to Earth" shows how the translation and implementation of national policy is greatly dependent upon local knowledge and power.