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China’s Future Countryside Model Construction and Development Level Evaluation

College of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua 321004, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2023, 15(18), 13819;
Submission received: 29 July 2023 / Revised: 7 September 2023 / Accepted: 11 September 2023 / Published: 16 September 2023
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Green Development: Rural Communities, Resilience and Sustainability)


Communities and villages are holistic organisms, representing a complete system formed by natural space and human activities. Since the concept of “future community” was put forward by the Drucker Foundation in the United States at the end of the 20th century, “future community” has expanded from the city to the countryside. Governments and scholars of various countries have started the practical and theoretical research into “future community”. Based on the theory of “village organism”, this paper constructs the structural model of the future countryside, and then constructs the health evaluation index system of the future countryside. This effectively makes up for the shortcomings of previous studies, and provides a new perspective and systematic analysis method for the study of community and village issues. Using entropy weight method and TOPSIS method, Jindong District was used as a case to conduct the quantitative evaluation of the development level of 46 administrative villages in the region. The results showed that: (1) the development level of the villages in the region was not high, and far from the requirements of future countryside, indicating that countryside revitalization has a long way to go; (2) within the region, competitive convergence occurs in the development process of all villages; (3) of the two major countryside systems in the future, the health level of the physical space system is higher than that of the social system, indicating that the local government pays more attention to the construction of the “external” image of the countryside and ignores the improvement of the “internal” function of the countryside society; (4) in the prospective construction of nine scenes of future countryside, an observable trend towards “grouping” differentiation emerges. This phenomenon underscores existing deficiencies in countryside construction, indicating that countryside areas still fail to realize the function of being “self-hematopoietic”. The determination and selection of sample indicators exhibit regional cultural disparities, permitting various regions to customize indicators with their specific contextual circumstances. Nevertheless, the universal approach of treating countryside areas as holistic entities remains essential in scholarly inquiry.

1. Introduction

Since the late 20th century, people from all walks of life have gradually started to discuss the future community [1]. In 1988, the American Drucker Foundation published the book The Community of the Future, which proposed the beautifully imagined “the community of the future” [2]. In 2000, Roger Fidler defined “the community of the future” by taking the development of new media as the starting point [3]. In this context, the future community was envisaged as a nexus where electronic media could enhance community intelligence by connecting community development and residents. This perspective emphasized the role of “electronic media” in shaping the future community; since then, foreign scholars have gradually embarked on comprehensive studies of future communities. Ortiz Robin constructed a green and public transport-oriented new community transportation mode [4] and Chloe Johansen et al. put forward the resilient community planning concept with self-renewal ability [5]. Maurice McNaughton et al. took Treasure Beach Community in Jamaica as a case study and proposed methods and initiatives for implementing smart community programs in the community tourism environment [6]. These studies focus on a certain aspect of future community construction, and do not carry out research from a “system” perspective.
In 2019, Zhejiang Provincial Government put forward the concept of “future community” for the first time in its official report; it is proposed to “focus on the three-dimensional value coordinates of humanism, ecology and digitalization, with harmonious co-governance, green economy and wisdom sharing as the connotation characteristics, and build an integrated system focusing on the creation of nine scenarios in the future, including neighborhood, education, health, entrepreneurship, architecture, low-carbon, service and governance” [7]. Chinese scholars have sequentially delved into the conceptual definition, theoretical origin, connotation characteristics and construction significance of future community in terms of theory [8,9,10,11]. However, they have not yet provided a comprehensive answer to the question of what serves as the theoretical basis of the system design. In 2021, Zhejiang Provincial Government put forward the concept of “countryside future community” on the basis of the concept of “future community”. In 2022, Zhejiang Provincial Government issued “Guidance on Future countryside Construction” [12], which proposed that more than 200 future countryside communities should be built in the province every year from 2022. At present, the academic circles’ research on the future countryside mainly focuses on the connotation characteristics, the realization path of construction significance [13,14], case analysis, experience summary [15], etc.
In the previous research, the project team proposed the “village organism theory”, which regards the village as an organic living system and holds that “the village organism starts from a single cell (household) and develops into a cell mass through cell division and development until it forms an organism. In this process, the village organism develops into five organs of consanguinity, politics, economy, ideology and ethics, and is responsible for coordinating the five relations of consanguinity, politics, economy, ideology and ethics in the social system. The village organism is composed of two major systems, physical space and society, which are respectively expressed in various scene forms” [16]. It provides a theoretical basis for the systematic investigation of the village organic structure, construction of a future countryside ideal structure model, and evaluation of village development level.
In terms of community assessment, Cole Megan J et al. used census data to measure 13 sustainable development indicators of 47 mining communities in the Siwyz gold field, South Africa, summing up significant inequality among communities and proposing countermeasures [17]. Alwehab Abdelwehab A et al. built a sustainable community evaluation system under the background of Iraqi urban characteristics based on regional environmental characteristics [18]. In practice, many new community operation models have been formed, such as the European open block, the Japanese shared community and the Singaporean “neighborhood center” model [19].
In terms of the evaluation of the level of countryside development, scholars, relying on the countryside development policy of our country and combined with the construction conditions, have constructed an evaluation index system of the present situation in countryside construction [20,21], village development potential [22], village comprehensive development potential [23], countryside inheritance [24], digital countryside development readiness [25], etc. The spatial scale of the study covers the village level, municipal level, provincial level and even the whole country. In March 2021, SUC Project Management Center and Beijing Institute of Future Habitat Technology, based on the United Nations Sustainable Community Standards, jointly compiled China’s first countryside international Future Community index system and construction guide—Lianhua Countryside International Future Community Index System and Construction Guide [26]. The index system highlights the characteristics of “internationalization”, but due to the lack of research on the future countryside system, the index system construction is not comprehensive. The construction of the above evaluation index system is not “systematic” and does not solve the problem of what the theoretical basis for the construction of the evaluation system is.
Since the commencement of China’s reform and opening-up policy, the Chinese government has placed considerable emphasis on “Three Rural Problems” concerning agriculture, rural areas and farmers. Over the past four decades, more than 25 No. 1 Central Document policies have been issued, spanning from the “New Countryside” construction to the “Beautiful Countryside” initiative, and presently, the “Future Countryside” development phase. Despite entering this phase of “Future Countryside” development, an observation from the current rural development status and the perspective of village organism systems in China suggests that the level of rural development has not yet reached the desired state. Therefore, the following hypotheses are posited:
Hypothesis 1: 
Although rural areas exhibit the appearance of a proliferation of new buildings, the overall development level remains suboptimal.
Hypothesis 2: 
Rural areas often display homogeneity and convergence in the competitive dynamics of rural construction.
Hypothesis 3: 
Socio-economic and cultural aspects of rural development are characterized by uneven progress.
Hypothesis 4: 
There exists a potential disconnect between the development of rural social systems and material spatial systems.
Hypothesis 5: 
The topography and geomorphology of an area may impact the level of development within its villages.
From the perspective of the “village organism” system, this paper seeks to ascertain the current objective level of rural development in China through the establishment of an index system for future countryside and empirical research. The analytical approach employed in this system differs from conventional research methods, featuring a systematic and somewhat innovative character.

2. Theoretical Basis

2.1. Concept Definition

2.1.1. “Cells” of the Village Organism

We call the space occupied by “households” (building space) and the people living in those households the “cells” of the village organism (hereinafter referred to as cells). Figure 1.

2.1.2. Village Organism

In a certain natural geographical space, the cell cluster or cell collection formed by the gradual division and development of a single cell with a certain blood relationship and survival and development in a certain mode of production is called a village organism.

2.1.3. “Organs” of the Village Organism

The structural units that are composed of various tissues and have the function of coordinating certain social relations in the village organism are called organs.

2.1.4. Future Countryside

Future countryside represents the future lifestyle of the countryside and the ideal organism structure pattern corresponding to it.

2.2. Basic Theory

2.2.1. Village Organism Theory

The theory of village organisms holds that a village is a living organism. “Household” is the most basic unit of a village. Just like other organisms, village organisms also develop from the earliest single cell (household).
A person acts as a nucleus residing within a cell. The nucleus carries cultural genes, which constantly promote cell division and reproduction in the process of self-production of a “human”, so that the organism with consanguinity develops and grows continuously, and finally forms the village organism. The growth of individual cells includes various life forms such as division, reproduction, death, regeneration, recombination and invasion. Structurally, village organisms also follow the life structure of cell, tissue, organ and organism. During the growth and development of village organic tissues, cell functions begin to differentiate, and some cell functions (space) develop into “organs” of village organisms. They take over or integrate certain management functions of individual cells in accordance with the principle that the whole is greater than the survival ability of individuals, so as to realize the control of group cells and achieve the consistency of group cell cooperation. According to Marx’s theory of social organisms, the social organism contains five kinds of relations: “economy, politics, ideology, consanguinity and ethics”. Correspondingly, we believe that the village organism has five organs: “economy, politics, ideology, consanguinity and ethics”, which are, respectively, expressed in different spatial forms. The five organs are in harmony with the relationship of “metal, wood, water, fire and earth” in traditional Chinese philosophy [16].
The village organism is composed of a physical space system and a social system. The physical space system is the space where people live and produce, and the social system is composed of the social community living in this space and its lifestyle. The social community is the living subject of the village organism, and the physical space system is the carrier of the living subject. This is reflected in the structural pattern shown in Figure 2.
The development of the village organism does not depend on the action of any one organ, but is the result of the interaction between various organs. Therefore, only the healthy development of the five functional organs can make the village live in a harmonious state. All the five functional organs are indispensable. Their contradictory relationship promotes the growth and development of living organisms in villages.

2.2.2. Yin–Yang Theory

“Yin and yang” is a pair of categories in ancient Chinese philosophy. Yin–yang theory holds that the world is a material whole, and everything in nature contains two opposing aspects of “yin” and “yang”, and the opposing sides are unified. “Yin and yang” opposites, “yin and yang” sympathies, “yin and yang” push each other, and finally maintain a balance. The movement of the unity of opposites of “yin and yang” is the fundamental cause of the occurrence, development, change and extinction of all things in nature [27].
“Yin and yang” balance, usually expressed by the “Taiji diagram”, means that things are in the healthiest state. Therefore, for the ideal lifestyle and model structure of the countryside in the future, we hope that the “yin and yang” balance, all kinds of contradictions reach unity, and the natural and social operation of the village achieve the most ideal state of balance. This is the starting point of future countryside planning, but also the fundamental goal of construction.

2.2.3. Scene Theory

According to Barker, “Environment and human behavior work in both directions, and the two are ecologically interdependent units. The material characteristics of the environment support certain fixed patterns of behavior, and the fixed patterns of behavior are repeated over a period of time despite the constant change in users in the environment, which is called a place, and the place and the behavior of the people together constitute the scene of behavior” [28].
Therefore, it can be understood that the physical space system and various social activities of people in a village are displayed in a certain “scene”. We can dissect the village organism layer by layer according to the village organism theory, to understand the scenes and connotations of the organism at different levels, and finally construct and form the future countryside structure model.

3. Construction of Future Countryside Model and Evaluation Index System

As can be seen from Figure 2, the village organism is composed of a physical space system and a social system. By “analyzing” the first layer of the two systems, we can obtain the first level scene and its connotation, and so on.

3.1. First-Level Scene Construction

3.1.1. Physical Space System

The physical space system is composed of building space, road space and green ecological space. We strive to realize the “low-carbon operation” of the physical space system, therefore, the three first-level scenes: “traffic scene”, “building scene”, “low-carbon scene” are used to represent the physical space system.

3.1.2. Social System

There are five social relations in the social system, which are regulated by the five organs of consanguinity, ideology, politics, economy and ethics. A “Consanguineous organ” is an organ that keeps the life of social organism young and coordinates the relationship between people in the village organism. Therefore, it is represented by two first-level scenes: “neighborhood scene” and “health scene”. The “political organ” assumes the village governance function and is represented by the “governance scene”; the “Economic organ” assumes the production function and is represented by “entrepreneurial scene”. “Ideological organ” assumes the function of education and is represented by “educational scene”. “Ethical organs” undertake various functions of ethical and moral education, and realize indirect education by constructing various public service facilities (entertainment, sports, business, etc.) to meet people’s material and spiritual needs, so it is represented by “service scene” (see Figure 3).

3.2. Second-Level Scene (Second-Level Factor)

Second-level scene is a further analysis based on the First-level scene.

3.2.1. Traffic Scene

Countryside transport includes passenger transport, freight transport and static transport. Therefore, it is represented by three Second-level scenes: “traffic travel”, “logistics distribution” and “parking lot”.

3.2.2. Low-Carbon Scene

Low-carbon scene includes a low-carbon environment and low-carbon life. Low-carbon life is to reduce carbon emissions, and improve the utilization of energy resources. Therefore, it is characterized by three Second-level scenes: “ecological green space”, “comprehensive utilization of energy” and “resource recycling”.

3.2.3. Building Scene

The construction of village space includes the construction of buildings, infrastructure and public space. In countryside areas, buildings are mainly built by private people. Considering the protection and utilization of traditional buildings, they are represented by three Second-level scenes: “characteristic style”, “infrastructure” and “public open space”.

3.2.4. Neighborhood Scene

Chinese traditional villages belong to the society of acquaintances, and the interaction between people is a kind of warm affection and mutual assistance. However, with the weakening of village consanguineous relationships and the increase in migrant population, the neighborhood relationship gradually weakens and needs to be reconstructed. Therefore, it is represented by three Second-level scenes: “neighborhood characteristic culture”, “neighborhood open sharing” and “neighborhood mutual help life”.

3.2.5. Health Scene

The birth rate of newborns determines whether the village consanguinity can be sustained and determines the young state of life of village organisms. The well-being index and life quality of villagers are determined by their health status and medical service level. Therefore, it is represented by four Second-level scenes: “newborn”, “elderly health management”, “home care” and “medical service”.

3.2.6. Governance Scene

Village governance includes governance institutions, governance mechanisms and residents’ participation. The grid management model led by the Party building has become the basic model of community governance and plays an important role in village governance. Therefore, it is represented by three Second-level scenes: “governance mechanism”, “resident participation” and “governance platform”.

3.2.7. Entrepreneurial Scene

On the basis of traditional agriculture, the current development of countryside industry mainly focuses on the development of the village collective economy, the development of countryside characteristic industries, new agricultural cooperative organizations, the import of exogenous capital and other factors. Therefore, it is represented by three Second-level scenes: “village collective economy”, “modern agriculture” and “new economy”.

3.2.8. Educational Scene

Countryside education pays more attention to basic education for minors. With the implementation of vocational education and the university for the aged, education is developing towards learning opportunities for all. Therefore, it is represented by three Second-level scenes: “early childhood education”, “primary education” and “knowledge at your side”.

3.2.9. Service Scene

Countryside services are divided into village management services, villagers’ daily life services and traditional moral education. Village management strives to build an information management platform. The daily life services of villagers include the supply of various commodities. Traditional moral enlightenment is achieved by traditional handicraft artists through the construction of traditional building space and traditional artifacts, so that people can attain intangible enlightenment. Therefore, it is represented by three Second-level scenes: “property integrated management platform”, “commercial service” and “traditional handicraft” (see Figure 4).
Figure 4 clearly constructs the scene form and connotation contained in the future of the countryside. Through the analysis of four levels, the deconstruction model of the future countryside is constructed and formed.

3.3. Development Level Evaluation Index System

On the basis of the Second-level scene, the specific content of the Third-level index factors is determined according to the actual situation of countryside areas. The specific content of the Third-level index factors should reflect the characteristics of the future countryside. Therefore, it should not only include the content of future industry and information management, but also include the characteristics of countryside traditional cultural inheritance. Therefore, traditional cultural elements should be reflected in the index construction, such as the activation and utilization of traditional buildings, characteristic traditional cultural projects, village rules, clan organizations, traditional stove, handicraft artists, etc., reflecting the basic characteristics of urban and countryside integration (see Table 1 for details).

4. Research Area Overview and Data Sources

4.1. Overview of the Study Area

Jindong District of Jinhua City is located in the middle of Zhejiang Province, in the eastern section of Jinqu Basin, with longitude and latitude between 119°14′–120°46′ east longitude, and 28°32′–29°41′ north latitude. The terrain is high in the north and south, and low in the middle. “Surrounded by mountains on three sides and sandwiched by a river, the basin is scattered with three rivers” are the basic features of the geomorphology of Jindong District. The climate of Jindong District is subtropical monsoon climate, with an average annual temperature of 17.5 °C, an average annual precipitation of 1512.9 mm, annual sunshine of 2050.5 h, and a frost-free period of about 250 days. There are obvious vertical differences in climate, four distinct seasons, abundant rainfall and rich water, suitable for farming.
Jindong District covers an area of 661 square kilometers with a total population of 507,000. It has jurisdiction over two subdistricts, eight towns and one township government, and three hundred and fifty-three administrative villages (neighborhood committees). After years of countryside construction and environmental governance in Jindong District, the aspects of village ecological protection, village style transformation, grassroots governance ability, industrial development level and so on have been greatly improved. It has been awarded many provincial honorary titles such as Zhejiang Provincial Party Committee and Provincial Government New Era Beautiful Countryside Model County, Provincial Agricultural product quality and safety Assured County, Provincial countryside Household Garbage classification and Treatment Winning County, Provincial African Swine Fever Prevention and Control Model County.

4.2. Selection of Sample Villages

In the scope of Jindong District, 46 sample villages were selected (Figure 5). The selection principle of sample villages: first, the principle of balance. Within the scope of Jindong District, 46 sample villages were randomly and evenly selected within each street and town (township) based on the principle that the distance between villages and villages should be as equal as possible and the number of samples should be appropriate to the area of each town. The second is the principle of data availability. The selected villages should have a sound organizational structure, and the village cadres should have a strong sense of the overall situation and be willing to cooperate with the research of this subject, to ensure the availability of data.

4.3. Data Sources

The data in this study came from field research. Based on the basis of determining the sample villages, research methods and survey forms, and with the support and introduction of the leaders of the Jindong District Land and Resources Administration Bureau, the research team members went to the villages separately to conduct field research and obtain first-hand survey data through interviews, field measurements and other means.

5. Research Methods

5.1. Entropy Weight Method

Entropy is a physical quantity function that describes the disorder of molecules in the system. The higher entropy is, the more disordered the molecules are and the more chaotic the system is [29]. The lower the entropy, the more ordered the molecules and the more stable the system. As an objective weighting method, the entropy weighting method obtains index weights through the mathematical processing of sample data. Different from the subjective weighting method, which relies on people’s subjective judgment, the entropy weighting method has strong objectivity.
The concept of information entropy is a measure used to reflect the degree of disorder of the information system and measure the uncertainty of things. The greater the information entropy is, the more uncertain things are; the more complex things are, the higher the degree of chaos is. Let there be n cells {M1, M2…, an information source of Mn}, and the occurrence probability of Mi of each cell is P(Mi), then the calculation formula of information entropy is defined as [30]:
H   ( M ) = k i = 1 n P ( M i ) l n P M i
In the formula, k is the coefficient greater than 0, and 0 < P ( M i ) < 1. The smaller the information entropy, the greater the available information and the greater the importance. Information entropy can be used to calculate the weight of each index. The specific calculation steps of the entropy weight method are as follows:

5.1.1. Dimensionless Processing of Data

Due to the difference in dimensionality and dimensionality units of different indicators, it is impossible to directly compare the sample data, so it is necessary to conduct dimensionless processing on the data. In this paper, the range transformation method is adopted to conduct dimensionless processing on the original data. After dimensionless processing, the index value is located in the interval [0, 1]. The larger the value of all indexes, the better. Indicators can be divided into positive indicators and negative indicators. The dimensionless formula of the positive index is:
Y i j = X i j m i n ( X 1 j , , X m j ) max ( X 1 j , , X m j ) m i n ( X 1 j , , X m j )
The dimensionless formula of the negative index is:
Y i j = m a x ( X 1 j , , X m j ) X i j max ( X 1 j , , X m j ) m i n ( X 1 j , , X m j )

5.1.2. Data Translation

In the process of calculating the entropy value, the logarithmic operation is required for the data. Here, the standardized method is used to shift the data by one unit to avoid the situation that some data are meaningless when calculating the entropy weight. After data translation, it becomes as shown below, so the normalized matrix is established:
Y i j = Y i j + 1

5.1.3. Calculation of the Proportion of Indicators

P i j represents the proportion of the index value j of the ith evaluation object in the total of this index. The calculation formula is as follows:
P i j = Y i j i = 1 m Y i j

5.1.4. Calculation of Index Entropy

This represents the entropy value of index value j . The larger the entropy value is, the greater the loss of information; the smaller the entropy value is, the less the loss of information and the greater the efficiency of information. The calculation formula is:
e j = 1 l n m i = 1 m p i j l n p i j

5.1.5. Calculation of Index Entropy Weight

This represents the entropy weight of index j, and the index weight matrix is W. The smaller the entropy of the index, the larger the entropy, the higher the importance of the index and the more important it is for the research object. The calculation formula is:
w j = 1 e j n j = 1 n e j
After standardized processing of the original data from 46 villages, the entropy weight method is used to calculate the entropy value of the index and finally the weight of each index.
In the complex village organism, the various activities of the residents are complicated, and the scenes are varied, so the selected evaluation indicators are different. Using the entropy weight method to determine the weight of a certain index is one of the scientific methods and one of the commonly used techniques.
The fundamental difference between the index system in this paper and other evaluation models in the literature lies in the complete and systematic nature of the index system. Based on organic theory, this index system systematically constructs various scenes of village organic social life. The studies [17,18,19] only construct the index system from the perspective of “development”, while the studies [20,21,22,23,24,25] construct the evaluation index system from the dimensions of construction status, development potential, cultural inheritance, digital development, etc., respectively. They are only some aspects or parts of the village organic system lifestyle, so they are not systematic and complete enough to reflect the whole village organism.

5.2. TOPSIS Method

TOPSIS (Technique for Order Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution), also known as the ideal point method, is a multi-index decision-making method. It was first proposed by Wang C.L and Yoon K.S in 1981, and has been widely used in performance evaluation. It uses the distance between the evaluation value vector of the evaluation object in the research data and the ideal solution and the negative ideal solution in the comprehensive evaluation to judge the quality of the evaluation object, so the evaluation objects are sorted. If the index evaluation value vector of the research sample is closer to the ideal solution and further away from the negative ideal solution, the performance will be better; otherwise, the performance will be worse [31].
Assume that there are a total of m sample data, the number of evaluation indicators is n , and the value of each evaluation index is ( i = 1, 2, 3…, m ; j = 1, 2, 3…, n ). The calculation steps of the TOPSIS comprehensive evaluation method are as follows:

5.2.1. Construct the Weighted Normalization Matrix

The weighted normalized matrix is constructed by combining the calculated index weights with the standardized data. The maximum values of each index in the weighted matrix constitute the optimal solution vector X + and the worst solution vector X , respectively.
Set the security normalization matrix as R , and the calculation formula is:
R = r i j m n = y i j w j m n

5.2.2. Ideal and Negative Ideal Solutions

Suppose the ideal solution vector is S + = r j + 1 n , and the negative ideal solution vector is S = r j 1 n , and the calculation formula is:
r j + = max r 1 j ,   r 2 j ,   r m j
r j = m i n r 1 j ,   r 2 j ,   r m j

5.2.3. The Distance between the Index Evaluation Value Vector and the Ideal Solution and the Negative Ideal Solution

Suppose the distance between the evaluation value vector of the research sample index and the ideal solution is D i + and the distance between the negative ideal solution is D i , Euclidean distance formula is used for calculation, and the calculation formula is:
D i + = j = 1 n r i j r j + 2
D i = j = 1 n r i j r j 2

5.2.4. Calculate the Relative Proximity Ci between the Index Value of Each Evaluation Object and the Ideal Solution

C i = D i D i + ( 0 C i 1 )
Rank the pros and cons of the evaluation objects according to the relative proximity. The closer C i is to 1, the better the corresponding evaluation object is, and the closer it is to the ideal health state of the village. From the perspective of the village organism, the closer C i is to 1, the closer it is to the ideal state, namely the health state, no matter the form and operation of the physical space system and the life state of the five organs in the social system.
Assuming that the ideal state value of the “yin and yang” balance of the village organism is 1, the TOPSIS comprehensive evaluation method aims to calculate the proximity Ci between the status quo of social and economic development of each village and the ideal value. According to the proximity, the current development level of the village is determined.
The key to determining the objectivity and accuracy of the C i value is the selection and measurement of indicators. In the process of multi-level analysis, we hope to select the most appropriate “scene” in this study subjectively; however, objectively, the index system cannot perfectly express the real operating state of village organisms, so there are still some defects. We hope to discuss with different scholars to further improve the index system in future studies. The measurement of index data is also affected by various factors, the error of measurement is inevitable, and the measurement method needs to be further studied and perfected.
The selection of indicators is also affected by the regional cultural differences in the villages. However, the systematic structure of the village organism is the same regardless of the location. They are made up of physical space systems and social systems. Therefore, this study provides theoretical support and useful experience reference for how to dissect the organism and how to select the indicators.

5.3. Division of Health Level

Based on TOPSIS calculation results, the health degree of sample villages in Jindong District was evaluated comprehensively and in different dimensions. A comprehensive evaluation is to evaluate the comprehensive health degree of villages in Jindong District based on 46 evaluation indexes. The sub-dimensional evaluation is to evaluate the nine “scenes” of the villages, respectively. In the health level evaluation, the equal interval classification method in ArcGIS [32] was adopted to divide the relative proximity of 46 sample villages into five levels, namely, high health, superior health, medium health, general health and low health. The value range of C i is: (0.8–1), (0.6–0.8), (0.4–0.6), (0.2–0.4), (0–0.2).

6. Research Results and Analysis

6.1. The Current Level of Countryside Construction Is Still in the Lower Middle Level

Data show that the comprehensive health degree of all villages in the whole region is still at the lower level; the average comprehensive health degree of all villages is 0.346, among which the highest C i is 0.486 (Pukou Village) and the lowest C i is 0.230 (Changgeng Village). This outcome corroborates the validity of Hypothesis 1. Despite China’s transition into the development phase of “Future Countryside” and the apparent proliferation of new rural construction, the analysis from the perspective of the village organism system reveals that the development level is not ideal, with each village’s comprehensive development level still falling short of half of the desired value. It can be seen that there is still a long way to go for China’s countryside revitalization.

6.2. “Convergence” of Competition among Villages in Countryside Revitalization

The study reveals that the comprehensive health status of the sampled villages is almost in the same growth trend line, and there is little difference between the comprehensive health value of all villages and the median trend line. This finding confirms the validity of Hypothesis 2, suggesting the presence of competitive convergence during the rural revitalization process. This indicates that despite the differences in development conditions, geographical location, resource endowment and development level, all villages in the region actively carry out actions under the leadership and guidance of the government, and form a joint force to tend to the same growth trend (Figure 6). “Well-motivated efforts to determine competitive position, whether through brand positioning, market research or other methods of competitive analysis, end up being a baton that drives you toward a balance of power”, says Youngme Moon [33]. This is also the fundamental reason why there will be “A thousand villages are the same” countryside revitalization, as the government’s work goal and brand positioning have become a “baton” for the current countryside construction. Therefore, it is reasonable to see the “convergence” of competition, which is also the fundamental reason for the emergence of the “A thousand villages are the same”.

6.3. The Development Level of Villages in the Mountainous and Hilly Areas in the North and South Is Lower than That in the Central Plain

Villages in mountainous and hilly areas in the north and south are generally lower than those in the central plain due to backward transportation conditions, poor land and other resource conditions and serious population loss. The overall development trend from low to high is: mountain—hill—plain. In the plain area, the villages near the three Jinhua—Yiwu expressways have the highest level of development.
In the central part of Jindong District, a profile is cut from south to north. The health level of each village can be clearly seen by projecting the surrounding villages through the tangent line onto the profile (Figure 7), showing a trend of high in the middle and low on both sides. This outcome confirms the validity of Hypothesis 5, emphasizing the substantial impact of topography and geomorphology on the development level of villages. In areas with favorable topographical conditions, villages tend to exhibit higher development levels, whereas regions with unfavorable topographical conditions generally experience lower development levels among their villages.

6.4. The Level of Physical Space System Construction Is Higher than That of Social System Construction

The results show that among the two systems of village organisms, the health degree of the physical space system of each village is higher than that of the social system. This outcome corroborates the validity of Hypothesis 4, suggesting a disconnection between the development of the village organism’s physical space system and its social system during the development process (Figure 8). This phenomenon shows that in the process of new countryside construction and countryside revitalization in the past, the government paid more attention to the “external” image construction of countryside society, but ignored the “internal” function improvement of countryside society. Since Xi Jinping, then Secretary of Zhejiang Provincial Party Committee, put forward the scientific conclusion that “Lucian waters and lush mountains are gold and silver mountains” during his investigation in Anji County, Huzhou City in August 2005, Zhejiang Province has carried out relevant rural construction actions: in 2006, the new countryside construction of action; in 2013, the “Five water treatment”, “Three reform and one demolition”, “Four sides and three Modernization”, “811 Environmental Pollution Remediation Action”; in 2014, the construction activities of “Beautiful Countryside”, “Boutique Village” and “3A Tourism Village” were carried out; in 2016, “Comprehensive environmental Improvement of Small towns” was carried out. In 2018, Jindong District took the lead in establishing a pilot demonstration area for garbage sorting in China. In these countryside construction activities, the focus of local government work is basically on the construction of the countryside physical space system, because these are “surface” projects, easy to achieve results and easy to achieve political achievements. However, many endogenous problems of the countryside social system have not been the focus of local government.

6.5. The Health of the Nine Village Scenes Forms a “Grouping” Differentiation Feature

Research shows that within the hierarchy of healthiness across the nine scenes of village organisms, a distinct feature of “grouping” differentiation has become evident, thus affirming the validity of Hypothesis 3. This characteristic underscores the uneven development of various aspects within the village organism, encompassing its social, economic and cultural domains. It signifies that the current efforts in the revitalization of the countryside exhibit not only a misalignment of focus but also areas of pronounced inadequacy. In the first group, comprising the construction of “architecture”, “low-carbon”, and “governance” scenes, substantial human and material resources have been invested by the government, resulting in significant achievements. However, in the second group, encompassing the construction of “education”, “health”, “neighborhood”, “service”, “traffic”, and “start-up” notable shortcomings have become apparent (Figure 9).
In the three scenes of the first group, the comprehensive health degree C i of the building scene is 0.486, nearly half of the ideal value. On the one hand, it benefits from the improvement of farmers’ income levels, and on the other hand, it benefits from the government’s Beautiful Countryside construction campaign. At the same time, since the 18th CPC National Congress, a large number of traditional buildings have been repaired, protected and activated. The comprehensive health degree C i of low-carbon is 0.481, mainly due to the practical practice of the two-mountain theory of “lucid waters and lush mountains are gold and silver mountains”, and the high rate of natural gas to the household. Jindong District garbage classification is a demonstration area; the comprehensive health degree C i of governance scene is 0.452, which is mainly attributable to the government’s emphasis on local governance and the innovation of countryside grass-roots governance. Innovative measures such as “Party building alliance” and “grid management” have greatly improved the level of countryside governance.
In the six scenes of the second “group”, the comprehensive health C i of entrepreneurship scene is 0.169, ranking the last. The main reason is that China’s countryside land system still adopts the land contract responsibility system, land resources are fragmented, labor force and other productive factors continue to outflow, modern agriculture, the new agricultural business model has not explored a successful road, the countryside collective economy is generally lacking and most of the countryside collective rely on government financial support. So far, the village organism still fails to realize the “self-hematopoietic” function, and countryside economic development has become the biggest pain point of countryside revitalization; The comprehensive health of the traffic scene C i = 0.193 , ranking the second from the bottom. Although there are buses in countryside areas, there are fewer bus routes and a lower frequency, which is difficult to meet the travel needs of countryside residents. Although the per capita ownership rate of private cars in countryside areas has been increasing, construction land has been strictly controlled, so there is a serious shortage of parking land in countryside areas, vehicles can only be parked randomly and countryside express delivery and logistics are in their infancy. The education scene is also grim. In the process of urbanization, a large number of countryside children flock to cities in search of high-quality education resources, and countryside education facilities continue to shrink, which further depresses basic education in the countryside. The vocational education of farmers has not been institutionalized, and the university for the elderly only stays in the activity room stage. The neighborhood scene is alarming. The heterogeneity of the countryside population and the decline of moral level make countryside neighborhood relationship gradually estranged. The health scene is not optimistic. The aging of the countryside population, the lack of medical resources, the declining birth rate of children and the outflow of young people; the service scene fails to meet the needs of villagers. There is an unbalanced allocation of urban and countryside public cultural facilities and a shortage of various service facilities in countryside areas. The construction of these six “scenes” still has a long way to go.

7. Conclusions and Discussion

7.1. Conclusions

The village organism is composed of a physical space system and a social system, and its structure has its own rules. To study villages effectively, it is imperative to adopt a systemic perspective, treating the countryside as an interconnected entity encompassing various aspects. Commencing from the core of this organism, a hierarchical analysis is conducted, leading to the development of a structural model and an evaluation index system for future countryside research. While different regions possess distinct cultural characteristics, researchers should tailor their evaluation criteria to local conditions. Nonetheless, the method of hierarchical analysis from an organism systems perspective holds a degree of universality. Despite China’s progression into the phase of future countryside construction, it is essential not to be misled by the superficial phenomenon of “new construction proliferation”. The overall health level of village organisms remains suboptimal, signifying that China’s rural revitalization is still in its nascent stages. Consequently, within the context of the grand rural revitalization project, a mindset of preparing for a protracted struggle must be embraced; the convergence of competition among villages in the process of countryside revitalization is the main reason for the phenomenon of “A thousand villages are the same”. Therefore, improving the level of countryside cultural construction means that we should vigorously explore the connotation of traditional culture, cultivate the countryside cultural brand of “one village, one product”, avoid homogenized competition in countryside competition, rebuild cultural confidence, improve moral level, repair neighborhood relations and rebuild a harmonious acquaintance society. In the process of countryside construction in the past, the government paid more attention to the “external” image construction of countryside society, but ignored the “internal” function improvement of countryside society. Therefore, the government should change the “performance view” and behavior pattern. We can lead countryside cadres and villagers out of a road of countryside revitalization with Chinese characteristics only by changing the government’s “view of achievements”, eliminating the behavior pattern of grassroots cadres in countryside construction “emphasizing the surface over the inner”, and shifting the focus of work to the cultivation of “blood type” countryside model. Countryside areas will have obvious weaknesses, especially the village “entrepreneurship”, which is the current “pain point” of countryside revitalization. Within the assessment of the nine major scenes, the C i value is the lowest, indicating that contemporary rural areas have yet to identify the optimal model for economic development. Therefore, there is a pressing need to actively seek a rural modernization development model that aligns with China’s unique characteristics. The small but natural economic model based on the “land contract responsibility system” cannot meet the needs of market competition, the fragmentation of resources, and results in brain drain and land wastage. The establishment of a “modern village limited liability company” that can adapt to the incentive market competition environment by taking the road of collectivized development and expanding the collective economy may be a feasible way for countryside economy to get rid of the dilemma; The healthy development of village organism is by no means a health problem of a “system”, “organ” or “scene”. All the “organs” in the system are connected with each other. Only by solving the “weaknesses” in countryside construction can the health level of village organism be improved as a whole. Therefore, it is recommended to improve the level of infrastructure and public facilities, the construction of a countryside transportation network, improving the ability of countryside residents to travel. There is also a need to improve the level of public construction in countryside areas and realize the balanced allocation of public facilities in urban and countryside areas. The countryside education system requires reconstruction because countryside areas not only need to “retain people” but also to “attract talents” and constantly improve the level of farmer vocational education. Care for the physical and mental health of the elderly by improving the ability of countryside areas to cope with the trend of aging, and make countryside areas a “livable, employable and tourist” destination to truly realize countryside revitalization.

7.2. Discussion

There are several potential directions for future research. Firstly, this study developed a model for the future countryside based on various theoretical frameworks, including “yin-yang theory”, “scene theory”, and “village organism theory”. However, the selection of indicators for evaluation was influenced by different regional lifestyles. The construction of indicators in various regions was tailored to local circumstances, following the principles of Organism Theory and the Future Countryside Structural Model, involving a hierarchical analysis to choose specific indicators suitable for each locality. The current indicator system construction is characterized by its regional specificity, and there is room for further refinement. The number of samples can also be appropriately increased. In future research, a more diverse set of sample villages will be selected. Utilizing the principles and methods of village organism system analysis, combined with the local context, certain indicators within the system will be replaced to enhance the scientific validity of village organism evaluation. Ultimately, this will contribute to the broader applicability of organism theory and indicator construction and selection methods.
Secondly, countryside construction and sustainable development is a common concern at home and abroad. To achieve sustainable development in rural areas, it is necessary to uphold the planning thought and construction goal of “yin and yang” balance. While focusing on the equilibrium between yin and yang in the village organism system, attention should also be directed towards the microsystem equilibrium within each “cell”. The equilibrium within the village organism system is achieved through the collective actions of its various subsystems. Therefore, it is not only necessary to understand the deconstruction of the village organism system but also to delve deeper into the mechanisms of interaction among these subsystems and the inherent operational principles of each individual subsystem. A thorough investigation of these issues requires a systematic and interconnected perspective. Only through such an approach can the sustainable development of the village organism system be realized.
Lastly, on the basis of the “village organism theory”, future research can explore multiple directions, such as investigations into cell activity within village organisms, the study of the flow pattern of village organic volume, study of the universal index and local index system of the future countryside index system, examinations of the health degree of specific “organs” within village organisms and the development of more scientifically rigorous numerical analysis methods for the future countryside indicator system.
Therefore, building a future countryside model and understanding the evaluation system have an important impact on the future countryside construction, and provide a new direction for the future countryside organism system research at home and abroad.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, Z.C.; methodology, Z.C.; software, S.W. and L.J.; validation, D.Y.; formal analysis, Z.C.; data curation, S.W.; writing—original draft, Z.C.; writing—review and editing, Y.X. and D.Y.; visualization, S.W. and L.J.; supervision, Y.X. and D.Y.; project administration, Z.C. and D.Y.; funding acquisition, Z.C. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This work is supported by the Chinese Philosophy and Social Sciences Planning Office: Study on Coping Mechanism of Ecological Desertification of Traditional Village Culture in Urban-countryside Integration (No.:18BSH089).

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. Schematic diagram of the cell.
Figure 1. Schematic diagram of the cell.
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Figure 2. Structure of village organism.
Figure 2. Structure of village organism.
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Figure 3. Deconstruction diagram of village organism first-level scene (Level I factor).
Figure 3. Deconstruction diagram of village organism first-level scene (Level I factor).
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Figure 4. Analysis diagram of village organism Second-level scene (Second-level factor).
Figure 4. Analysis diagram of village organism Second-level scene (Second-level factor).
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Figure 5. Distribution of sample villages.
Figure 5. Distribution of sample villages.
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Figure 6. Trend and distribution of comprehensive health degree in each village.
Figure 6. Trend and distribution of comprehensive health degree in each village.
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Figure 7. Comparison of health degree of villages near the profile.
Figure 7. Comparison of health degree of villages near the profile.
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Figure 8. Comparison of physical space system and social system health in each sample village.
Figure 8. Comparison of physical space system and social system health in each sample village.
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Figure 9. The group differentiation diagram of the nine scenes.
Figure 9. The group differentiation diagram of the nine scenes.
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Table 1. Evaluation index system of future countryside development level.
Table 1. Evaluation index system of future countryside development level.
System LayerSubsystem LayerPrimary Factor LayerSecond-Level Factor LayerTertiary Factor LayerUnit
Physical space systemPlane of landTraffic sceneTraffic and getting aroundNumber of bus routes to the villageitem
Number of private carsvehicle
Parking lotNumber of parking spots (where lines are painted) and parking garagesnumber
Logistics distributionAcreage of courier centers and village postal stationsm2
Low-carbon sceneComprehensive utilization of energyRate of gas connection to households%
Number of traditional stoves in the villagenumber
Ecological areaGreen space + water aream2
Resource recyclingThe proportion of households participating in waste separation%
Building spaceBuilding sceneCharacteristic styleNumber of distinctive new buildings (villas or beautiful courtyards)household
Number of traditional buildings activated and utilizedblock
InfrastructureRate of water connection to households%
Rate of sewerage connection to households%
Rate of broadband access to households%
Public open spaceAcreage of countryside public building spaces (except cultural hall)m2
Social systemConsanguineous organNeighborhood sceneNeighborhood characteristic cultureAcreage of cultural hallsm2
Number of special traditional cultural activities projectsitem
Number of cultural teams and organizationsnumber
Neighborhood open sharingAcreage of cultural parks or squares (outdoors)m2
Neighborhood supportNumber of village covenants and family rules and regulationsitem
Acreage of venues for wedding and funeral events (banquet halls, plazas in front of cemeteries, etc.)m2
Health sceneNewbornThe birth rate of newborns%
Elderly health managementHealth care rate for the aged%
Home careThe proportion of elderly canteens (age 65+ entering canteens for meals)%
Number of senior citizens aged 85 and abovepeople
Number of beds in the nursing homesnumber
Medical serviceNumber of doctors in attendance in health clinicsnumber
Number of visits to village medical services per yeartimes/year
Economic organGovernance sceneGovernance mechanismNumber of government institutions such as party, political, women, youth, militia and integrated mediationnumber
Rate of party building-led grid management to households%
Percentage of party members%
Residents participationNumber of organizations such as elderly associations and Dragon Lantern societiesnumber
Rate of residents’ participation in elections%
Clan council institutionsnumber
Governance platformNumber of law and order monitoring pointsnumber
Political organEntrepreneurial sceneNew economyNumber of foreign entrepreneurs renting countryside housingpeople
The volume of foreign capital inflowten thousand yuan
Modern agricultureNumber of agricultural cooperativesnumber
The number of specialty industries (e.g., specialty fruits, agricultural processing, breeding, bonsai gardens, etc.)item
Percentage of households operating in special industries%
Transfer of landmu
Village collective economyAnnual incometen thousand yuan
Ideological organEducation sceneEarly childhood educationNumber of kindergarten classesnumber
Primary educationNumber of primary school classesnumber
Distance to primary schoolkm
Knowledge at your sideNumber of vocational education and training for farmerstimes/year
Area of activity rooms for the agedm2
Ethical organService sceneIntegrated property managementNumber of third-party management services (e.g., garbage removal)item
Commercial servicesNumber of supermarkets, agricultural supplies, grocery shops, catering outlets, etc.number
Traditional handicraftsNumber of carpenters, cement makers, blacksmiths, etc.number
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Chen, Z.; Xu, Y.; Wang, S.; Jiang, L.; Yan, D. China’s Future Countryside Model Construction and Development Level Evaluation. Sustainability 2023, 15, 13819.

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Chen Z, Xu Y, Wang S, Jiang L, Yan D. China’s Future Countryside Model Construction and Development Level Evaluation. Sustainability. 2023; 15(18):13819.

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Chen, Zhiwen, Yixin Xu, Song Wang, Ling Jiang, and Dan Yan. 2023. "China’s Future Countryside Model Construction and Development Level Evaluation" Sustainability 15, no. 18: 13819.

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