The people's commune in the People's Republic of China, were formerly the highest of three administrative levels in rural areas during the period of 1958 to 1982-85 until they were replaced by townships. Communes, the largest collective units, were divided in turn into production brigades and production teams. The communes had governmental, political, and economic functions.
Each commune was a combination of smaller farm collectives, consisted of 4,000-5,000 households, and larger ones could consist of up to 20,000 households.
The Peoples' commune was made official state policy in 1958 after Mao Zedong visited an unofficial commune in Henan.
Everything originally owned by the households, private animals, stored grains and other food items were also contributed to the commune. They were put to different uses as assigned by the commune. All farming activities were to be centrally assigned by cadres every morning. Even money was outlawed in some places. Furthermore, family life was abolished; communal nurseries and homes for the elderly were established, and people were not allowed to eat with their families. A work point system was used to calculate rewards, and those who earned above-average work points could be eligible for cash rewards.
Yang, Dali. Calamity and Reform in China: State, Rural Society, and Institutional Change since the Great Leap Famine. Stanford, 1996.