The New Middle Class in China Consumption, Politics and the Market Economy

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2014-05-29
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

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This book argues that Western class categories do not directly apply to China and that the new Chinese middle class is distinguished more by socio-cultural rather than by economic factors. Based upon qualitative interviews done in Guangdong in South China, the study looks at entrepreneurs, professionals, and regional party cadres' from various age groups, showing the complex networks among these different groups and the continuing significance of cadres. The study also explores generational differences, exposing how older generations are pragmatic and business-oriented, rather than personally oriented in their consumption whereas the younger generations appear more flexible and hedonistic and tend to be more individualistic, materialistic and oriented towards personal gain. In neither older or younger generations is there much evidence that the new Chinese middle class is taking on a political role in advocating political reform alongside market reforms as is suggested by some Western stratification theorists. Despite being in the vanguard of consumption, they are the laggards in politics.

Author Biography

EILEEN YUK-HA TSANG is an assistant professor of Sociology at the Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

Table of Contents

Introduction: China Engages the Middle Class Society in the 21st Century? (Re) Framing Class Analysis in Post-Reform China Class Boundaries of the Older Generation of the Chinese New Middle Class Generational Effects in the Chinese New Middle Class Guanxi Networks and the Chinese New Middle Class Middle Class Culture and Political Development Conclusion: A China in the Making with a New Middle Class?

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