Society of the People's Republic of China

Society of the People's Republic of China

The People's Republic of China, the world's largest society, is united by a set of values and institutions that cut across extensive linguistic, environmental, and subcultural differences.

Chinese society, since the second decade of the twentieth century, has been the object of a revolution intended to change it in fundamental ways. In its more radical phases, such as the Great Leap Forward (1958-60) and the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the revolution aimed at nothing less than the complete transformation of everything from the practice of medicine, to higher education, to family life. In the 1980s China's leaders and intellectuals considered the revolution far from completed, and they intended further social change to make China a fully modernized country. It had become increasingly clear that although many aspects of Chinese social life had indeed undergone fundamental changes as a result of both political movements and economic development, the transformation was less than total. Much of the past either lived on in modified form or served to shape revolutionary initiatives and to limit the choices open to even the most radical of revolutionaries.

Ethnic boundaries

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Official policy recognized the multiethnic nature of the Chinese state, within which all "nationalities" are formally equal. On the one hand, it is not state policy to force the assimilation of minority nationalities, and such nonpolitical expressions of ethnicity as native costumes and folk dances are encouraged.

Official attitudes toward minority peoples have been inconsistent, if not contradictory. Since 1949 policies toward minorities have fluctuated between tolerance and coercive attempts to impose Han standards. Tolerant periods have been marked by subsidized material benefits intended to win loyalty, while coercive periods such as the Cultural Revolution have attempted to eradicate "superstition" and to overthrow insufficiently radical or insufficiently nationalistic local leaders.

What has not varied has been the assumption that it was the central government that decided what was best for minority peoples and that national citizenship took precedence over ethnic identity. In fact, minority nationality is a legal status in China. The government reserves for itself the right to determine whether or not a group is a minority nationality, and the list has been revised several times since the 1950s. In the mid-1980s the state recognized 55 minority nationalities, some with as few as 11,000 members. Minority nationalities are guaranteed special representation in the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Areas where minorities form the majority of the population may be designated "autonomous" counties, prefectures, or regions, subject to the authority of the central government in Beijing rather than to provincial or subprovincial administrations. It is expected that local administrations in such regions will be staffed at least in part by minority nationals and that application of national policies will take into account local circumstances and special needs. In the early 1980s, for example, minority peoples were exempted from the strict limitations on the number of children per family dictated to the Han population.

Most Han Chinese have no contact with members of minority groups. But in areas such as the Xizang (also known as Tibet) or Xinjiang autonomous regions, where large numbers of Han have settled since the assertion of Chinese central government authority over them in the 1950s, there is clearly some ethnic tension. The tension stems from Han dominance over such previously independent or semi-autonomous peoples as the Tibetans and Uygurs, from Cultural Revolution attacks on religious observances, and from Han disdain for and lack of sensitivity to minority cultures. In the autonomous areas the ethnic groups appear to lead largely separate lives, and most Han in those areas either work as urban-based administrators and professionals or serve in military installations or on state farms. Since the late 1970s, the central authorities have made efforts to conciliate major ethnic minorities by sponsoring the revival of religious festivals and by increasing the level of subsidies to the poorest minority regions. Because of these efforts, other moderate government policies, and the geographic distribution and relatively small size of minority groups in China, the country has not suffered widespread or severe ethnic conflict.

Han diversity and unity

The differences among regional and linguistic subgroups of Han Chinese are at least as great as those among many European nationalities. Han Chinese speak seven or eight mutually unintelligible dialects, each of which has many local subdialects. Cultural differences (cuisine, costume, and custom) are equally great. Modern Chinese history provides many examples of conflict, up to the level of small-scale regional wars, between linguistic and regional groups.

Such diversities, however, have not generated exclusive loyalties, and distinctions in religion or political affiliation have not reinforced regional differences. Rather, there has been a consistent tendency in Chinese thought and practice to downplay intra-Han distinctions, which are regarded as minor and superficial. What all Han share is more significant than the ways in which they differ. In conceptual terms, the boundary between Han and non-Han is absolute and sharp, while boundaries between subsets of Han are subject to continual shifts, are dictated by local conditions, and do not produce the isolation inherent in relations between Han and minority groups.

Han ethnic unity is the result of two ancient and culturally central Chinese institutions, one of which is the Chinese written language. Chinese is written with ideographs (sometimes called characters) that represent meanings rather than sounds, and so written Chinese does not reflect the speech of its author. The disjunction between written and spoken Chinese means that a newspaper published in Beijing can be read in Shanghai or Guangzhou, although the residents of the three cities would not understand each other's speech. It also means that there can be no specifically Cantonese (Guangzhou dialect) or Hunanese literature because the local speech of a region cannot be directly or easily represented in writing. (It is possible to add local color to fiction, cite colloquialisms, or transcribe folk songs, but it is not commonly done.) Therefore, local languages have not become a focus for regional selfconsciousness or nationalism. Educated Chinese tend to regard the written ideographs as primary, and they regard the seven or eight spoken Han Chinese dialects as simply variant ways of pronouncing the same ideographs. This is linguistically inaccurate, but the attitude has significant political and social consequences. The uniform written language in 1987 continued to be a powerful force for Han unity.

The other major force contributing to Han ethnic unity has been the centralized imperial state. The ethnic group takes its name from the Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE). Although the imperial government never directly controlled the villages, it did have a strong influence on popular values and culture. The average peasant could not read and was not familiar with the details of state administration or national geography, but he was aware of belonging to a group of subcontinental scope. Being Han, even for illiterate peasants, has meant conscious identification with a glorious history and a state of immense proportions. Peasant folklore and Chinese folk religion assumed that the imperial state, with an emperor and an administrative bureaucracy, was the normal order of society. In the imperial period, the highest prestige went to scholar-officials, and every schoolboy had the possibility, at least theoretically, of passing the civil service examinations and becoming an official.

The prestige of the state and its popular identification with the highest values of Chinese civilization were not accidents; they were the final result of a centuries-long program of indoctrination and education directed by the Confucian scholar-officials. Traditional Chinese society can be distinguished from other premodern civilizations to the extent that the state, rather than organized religious groups or ethnic segments of society, was able to appropriate the symbols of wisdom, morality, and the common good. The legacy for modern Chinese society has been a strong centralized government that has the right to impose its values on the population and against which there is no legitimate right of dissent or secession.

Traditional society and culture

The leaders who directed the efforts to change Chinese society after the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949 were raised in the old society and had been marked with its values. Although they were conscious revolutionaries, they could not wholly escape the culture into which they had been born. Nationalists as well as revolutionaries, they had no intention of transforming China into a replica of any foreign country. They had an ambivalent attitude toward their country's past and its traditional society, condemning some aspects and praising others. Furthermore, as practical administrators, China's post-1949 leaders devoted energy and attention to changing some aspects of traditional society, such as rural land tenure and the content of education, while leaving other aspects, such as family structure, largely untouched. Change in Chinese society, therefore, has been less than total and less consistent than has often been claimed by official spokesmen. To understand contemporary society, it is necessary to be familiar with past legacies, particularly in the realm of values and in areas of social life, such as family organization, where transformation has not been a high-priority political goal.

China's traditional values were contained in the orthodox version of Confucianism, which was taught in the academies and tested in the imperial civil service examinations. These values are distinctive for their this-worldly emphasis on society and public administration and for their wide diffusion throughout Chinese society. Confucianism, never a religion in any accepted sense, is primarily concerned with social order. Social harmony is to be achieved within the state, whose administrators consciously select the proper policies and act to educate both the rulers and the subject masses. Confucianism originated and developed as the ideology of professional administrators and continued to bear the impress of its origins.

Imperial-era Confucianists concentrated on this world and had an agnostic attitude toward the supernatural. They approved of ritual and ceremony, but primarily for their supposed educational and psychological effects on those participating. Confucianists tended to regard religious specialists (who historically were often rivals for authority or imperial favor) as either misguided or intent on squeezing money from the credulous masses. The major metaphysical element in Confucian thought was the belief in an impersonal ultimate natural order that included the social order. Confucianists asserted that they understood the inherent pattern for social and political organization and therefore had the authority to run society and the state.

The Confucianists claimed authority based on their knowledge, which came from direct mastery of a set of books. These books, the Confucian Classics, were thought to contain the distilled wisdom of the past and to apply to all human beings everywhere at all times (see Culture of China). The mastery of the Classics was the highest form of education and the best possible qualification for holding public office. The way to achieve the ideal society was to teach the entire people as much of the content of the Classics as possible. It was assumed that everyone was educable and that everyone needed educating. The social order may have been natural, but it was not assumed to be instinctive. Confucianism put great stress on learning, study, and all aspects of socialization. Confucianists preferred internalized moral guidance to the external force of law, which they regarded as a punitive force applied to those unable to learn morality. Confucianists saw the ideal society as a hierarchy, in which everyone knew his or her place and duties. The existence of a ruler and of a state were taken for granted, but Confucianists held that rulers had to demonstrate their fitness to rule by their "merit." The essential point was that heredity was an insufficient qualification for legitimate authority. As practical administrators, Confucianists came to terms with hereditary kings and emperors but insisted on their right to educate rulers in the principles of Confucian thought. Traditional Chinese thought thus combined an ideally rigid and hierarchical social order with an appreciation for education, individual achievement, and mobility within the rigid structure.

Diffusion of values

While ideally everyone would benefit from direct study of the Classics, this was not a realistic goal in a society composed largely of illiterate peasants. But Confucianists had a keen appreciation for the influence of social models and for the socializing and teaching functions of public rituals and ceremonies. The common people were thought to be influenced by the examples of their rulers and officials, as well as by public events. Vehicles of cultural transmission, such as folk songs, popular drama, and literature and the arts, were the objects of government and scholarly attention. Many scholars, even if they did not hold public office, put a great deal of effort into popularizing Confucian values by lecturing on morality, publicly praising local examples of proper conduct, and "reforming" local customs, such as bawdy harvest festivals. In this manner, over hundreds of years, the values of Confucianism were diffused across China and into scattered peasant villages and rural culture.

The Confucian legacy

Traditional values have clearly shaped much of contemporary Chinese life. The belief in rule by an educated and functionally unspecialized elite, the value placed on learning and propagating an orthodox ideology that focuses on society and government, and the stress on hierarchy and the preeminent role of the state were all carried over from traditional society. Some of the more radical and extreme policies of the 1950s and 1960s, such as attacks on intellectuals and compulsory manual labor for bureaucrats, can only be understood as responses to deep-rooted traditional attitudes. The role of model workers and soldiers, as well as official concern for the content and form of popular literature and the arts, also reflects characteristically Chinese themes. In the mid-1980s a number of Chinese writers and political leaders identified the lingering hold of "feudal" attitudes, even within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as a major obstacle to modernization. They identified such phenomena as authoritarianism, unthinking obedience to leaders, deprecation of expert knowledge, lack of appreciation for law, and the failure to apply laws to leaders as "feudal" legacies that were not addressed in the early years of China's revolution.

Traditional social structure

Throughout the centuries some 80 to 90 percent of the Chinese population have been farmers. The farmers supported a small number of specialized craftsmen and traders and also an even smaller number of land- and office-holding elite families who ran the society. Although the peasant farmers and their families resembled counterparts in other societies, the traditional Chinese elite, often referred to in English as the gentry, had no peers in other societies. The national elite, who comprised perhaps 1 percent of China's population, had a number of distinctive features. They were dispersed across the country and often lived in rural areas, where they were the dominant figures on the local scene. Although they held land, which they rented to tenant farmers, they neither possessed large estates like European nobles nor held hereditary titles. They achieved their highest and most prestigious titles by their performance on the central government's triennial civil service examinations (see Imperial examinations). These titles had to be earned by each generation, and since the examinations had strict numerical quotas, competition was fierce. Government officials were selected from those who passed the examinations, which tested for mastery of the Confucian Classics. Elite families, like everyone else in China, practiced partible inheritance, dividing the estate equally among all sons. The combination of partible inheritance and the competition for success in the examinations meant that rates of mobility into and out of the elite were relatively high for a traditional agrarian society.

The imperial state was staffed by a small civil bureaucracy. Civil officials were directly appointed and paid by the emperor and had to have passed the civil service examinations. Officials, who were supposed to owe their primary loyalty to the emperor, did not serve in their home provinces and were generally assigned to different places for each tour of duty. Although the salary of central officials was low, the positions offered great opportunities for personal enrichment, which was one reason that families competed so fiercely to pass the examinations and then obtain an appointment. For most officials, officeholding was not a lifetime career. They served one or a few tours and then returned to their home districts and families, where their wealth, prestige, and network of official contacts made them dominant figures on the local scene.

The examination system

In late imperial China the status of local-level elites was ratified by contact with the central government, which maintained a monopoly on society's most prestigious titles. The examination system and associated methods of recruitment to the central bureaucracy were major mechanisms by which the central government captured and held the loyalty of local-level elites. Their loyalty, in turn, ensured the integration of the Chinese state and countered tendencies toward regional autonomy and the breakup of the centralized system. The examination system distributed its prizes according to provincial and prefectural quotas, which meant that imperial officials were recruited from the whole country, in numbers roughly proportional to a province's population. Elites all over China, even in the disadvantaged peripheral regions, had a chance at succeeding in the examinations and achieving the rewards of officeholding.

The examination system also served to maintain cultural unity and consensus on basic values. The uniformity of the content of the examinations meant that the local elite and ambitious would-be elite all across China were being indoctrinated with the same values. Even though only a small fraction (about 5 percent) of those who attempted the examinations passed them and received titles, the study, self-indoctrination, and hope of eventual success on a subsequent examination served to sustain the interest of those who took them. Those who failed to pass (most of the candidates at any single examination) did not lose wealth or local social standing; as dedicated believers in Confucian orthodoxy, they served, without the benefit of state appointments, as teachers, patrons of the arts, and managers of local projects, such as irrigation works, schools, or charitable foundations.

In late traditional China, then, education was valued in part because of its possible payoff in the examination system. The overall result of the examination system and its associated study was cultural uniformity--identification of the educated with national rather than regional goals and values. This self-conscious national identity underlied the nationalism so important in China's politics in the twentieth century (see Republican China).

ocial stratification

Traditional thought accepted social stratification as natural and considered most social groups to be organized on hierarchical principles. In the ideal Confucian scheme of social stratification, scholars were at the highest level of society, followed by farmers, then by artisans, with merchants and soldiers in last place.

In society at large, the highest and most prestigious positions were those of political generalists, such as members of the emperor's council or provincial governors. Experts, such as tax specialists or physicians, ranked below the ruling political generalists. Although commerce has been a major element of Chinese life since the early imperial period, and wealthy merchants have been major figures in Chinese cities, Confucianists disparaged merchants. Commercial success never won respect, and wealth based on commerce was subject to official taxes, fees, and even confiscation. Upward mobility by merchants was achieved by cultivating good relations with powerful officials and educating their sons in the hope they might become officials. Although dynasties were founded by military conquest, Confucian ideology derogated military skill. Common soldiers occupied a low position in society and were recruited from its lowest ranks. Chinese civilization, however, includes a significant military tradition, and generals and strategists usually were held in high esteem.

Most of China's population was composed of peasant farmers, whose basic role in supporting the rulers and the rest of society was recognized as a positive one in Confucian ideology. In practical terms, farming was considered a hard and insecure life and one that was best left if an opportunity was available.

In Chinese communities the factors generating prestige were education, abstention from manual labor, wealth expended on the arts and education, a large family with many sons, and community service and acts of charity. Another asset was an extensive personal network that permitted one to grant favors and make introductions and recommendations. There was no sharp line dividing the elite from the masses, and social mobility was possible and common.

tratification and families

Before 1950 the basic units of social stratification and social mobility were families. Although wealthy families were often quite large, with as many as thirty people in three or four generations living together on a common budget, most families contained five or six people. In socioeconomic terms, late traditional China was composed of a large number of small enterprises, perhaps as many as 100 million farms and small businesses. Each was operated by a family, which acted not only as a household but also as a commercial enterprise. The family head also was the trustee of the estate and manager of the family business. Families could own property, such as land or shops, and pass it on to the next generation.

About 80 percent of the population were peasant farmers, and land was the fundamental form of property. Although many peasant families owned no land, large estates were rare by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Peasant families might own all of the land they worked, or own some and rent some from a landowner, or rent all their land. Regardless of the form of tenure, the farm was managed as a unit, and the head of household was free to decide what to plant and how to use the labor of family members. Land could be bought and sold in small parcels, as well as mortgaged and rented in various forms of short-term and long-term contracts. The consequence was that in most villages peasant families occupied different steps on the ladder of stratification; they did not form a uniformly impoverished mass. At any time, peasant families were distinguished by the amount of land that they owned and worked compared with the percentage of their income they paid in rent. Over time, peasant families rose or fell in small steps as they bought land or were forced to sell it.

Most non-farm enterprises, commercial or craft, were similarly small businesses run by families. The basic units were owned by families, which took a long-term view of their prospects and attempted to shift resources and family personnel from occupation to occupation to adapt to economic circumstances. In all cases, the long-term goal of the head of the family was to ensure the survival and prosperity of the family and to pass the estate along to the next generation. The most common family strategy was to diversify the family's economic activities. Such strategies lay behind the large number of small-scale enterprises that characterized Chinese society before 1950. Farming and landowning were secure but not very profitable. Commerce and money-lending brought in greater returns but also carried greater risks. A successful farm family might invest in a shop or a food-processing business, while a successful restaurant owner might buy farmland, worked by a sharecropping peasant family, as a secure investment. All well-to-do families invested in the education of sons, with the hope of getting at least one son into a government job. The consequence was that it was difficult to draw a class line dividing landlords, merchants, and government workers or officials.

ocial mobility

Formal education provided the best and most respected avenue of upward mobility, and by the nineteenth century literacy rates in China were high for a traditional peasant society. Chances of receiving a good education were highest for the upper classes in and around coastal cities and lowest for the farmers of the interior. If schooling was not available, there were other avenues of mobility. Rural people could move to cities to seek their fortunes (and in some cases the cities were in Southeast Asia or the Americas). People could go into business, gamble on the market for perishable cash crops, try money-lending on a small scale or, as a long shot, join the army or a bandit group. Late traditional society offered alternate routes to worldly success and a number of ways to change one's position in society; but in all routes except education the chances of failure outweighed those of success.

In many cases, whether in business or banditry, success or failure depended to a great degree on luck. The combination of population pressure, the low rate of economic growth, natural disasters, and endemic war that afflicted the Chinese population in the first half of the twentieth century meant that many families lost their property, some starved, and almost all faced the probability of misfortune. From the perspective of individuals and individual families, it is likely that from 1850 to 1950 the chances of downward mobility increased and the ability to plan ahead with confidence decreased.

ocial change

After the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949, the uncertainty and risks facing small-scale socioeconomic units were replaced by an increase in the scale of organization and bureaucratization, with a consequent increase in predictability and personal security. The tens of millions of small enterprises were replaced by a much smaller number of larger enterprises, which were organized in a bureaucratic and hierarchical manner. Collectivization of land and nationalization of most private businesses meant that families no longer had estates to pass along. Long-term interests for families resided primarily with the work unit (collective farm, office, or factory) to which they belonged.

Mobility in most cases consisted of gaining administrative promotions within such work units. Many of the alternate routes to social mobility were closed off, and formal education continued to be the primary avenue of upward mobility. In villages the army offered the only reasonable alternative to a lifetime spent in the fields, and demobilized soldiers staffed much of the local administrative structure in rural areas. For the first time in Chinese history, the peasant masses were brought into direct contact with the national government and the ruling party, and national-level politics came to have a direct impact on the lives of ordinary people. The formerly local, small-scale, and fragmented power structure was replaced by a national and well-integrated structure, operating by bureaucratic norms. The unpredictable consequences of market forces were replaced by administrative allocation and changing economic policies enforced by the government bureaucracy.

The principal transformation of society took place during the 1950s in a series of major campaigns carried out by the party. In the countryside, an initial land reform redistributed some land from those families with an excess to those with none. This was quickly followed by a series of reforms that increased the scale of organization, from seasonal mutual aid teams (groups of joint support laborers from individual farming households), to permanent mutual aid teams, to voluntary agricultural cooperatives, to compulsory agricultural cooperatives, and finally to large people's communes. In each step, which came at roughly two-year intervals, the size of the unit was increased, and the role of inherited land or private ownership was decreased. By the early 1960s, an estimated 90 million family farms had been replaced by about 74,000 communes. During the same period, local governments took over commerce, and private traders, shops, and markets were replaced by supply and marketing cooperatives and the commercial bureaus of local government. In the cities, large industries were nationalized and craft enterprises were organized into large-scale cooperatives that became branches of local government. Many small shops and restaurants were closed down, and those that remained were under municipal management.

In both city and countryside, the 1950s saw a major expansion of the party and state bureaucracies, and many young people with relatively scarce secondary or college educations found secure white-collar jobs in the new organizations. The old society's set of formal associations--everything from lineages (clans), to irrigation cooperatives, to urban guilds and associations of persons from the same place of origin, all of which were private, small-scale, and usually devoted to a single purpose--were closed down. They were replaced by government bureaus or state-sponsored mass associations, and their parochial leaders were replaced by party members. The new institutions were run by party members and served as channels of information, communication, and political influence.

The basic pattern of contemporary society was established by 1960, and all changes since then, including the reforms of the early and mid-1980s, have represented only modifications and adjustments to the pattern. The pattern is cellular; most people belong to one large, all-embracing unit, such as a factory, government office, or village. The unit is run by party branch, operates (or should operate) under common administrative rules and procedures, and reflects the current policies of the party. The consequence has been that most aspects of social differentiation, stratification, mobility, and tensions are now played out within an institutional framework. Most of the questions about any individual's life and prospects could be answered by specifying the unit--the social cell--with which that individual was associated.


:"For pre-1949 history, see Social structure of China."

Although much of the social structure of modern China has been interpreted as reflecting basic drives for security and equality, qualities in short supply before 1950, not all organizations and units were alike or equal. There have been four major axes of social differentiation in modern China. To some extent they overlapped and reinforced each other, but each rested on distinct and separate grounds.

The work place

Work units ("danwei") belonged to the state or to collectives. State-owned units, typically administrative offices, research institutes, and large factories, offered lifetime security, stable salaries, and benefits that included pensions and free health care. Collectives included the entire agricultural sector and many small-scale factories, repair shops, and village- or township-run factories, workshops, or service enterprises. Employees on the state payroll enjoyed the best benefits modern China had to offer. The incomes of those in the collective sector were usually lower and depended on the performance of the enterprise. They generally lacked health benefits or pensions, and the collective units usually did not provide housing or child-care facilities. In 1981 collective enterprises employed about 40 percent of the nonagricultural labor force, and most of the growth of employment since 1980 has come in this sector. Even though the growth since 1980 of individual businesses and small private enterprises, such as restaurants and repair services, had provided some individuals with substantial cash incomes, employment in the state sector remained most people's first choice. This reflected the public's recognition of that sector's superior material benefits as well as the traditional high prestige of government service.

"Security and equality" had been high priorities in modern China and have usually been offered within single work units. Because there was no nationwide insurance or social security system and because the income of work units varied, the actual level of benefits and the degree of equality (of incomes, housing, or opportunities for advancement) depended on the particular work unit with which individuals were affiliated. Work units were responsible for chronic invalids or old people without families, as well as for families confronted with the severe illness or injury of the breadwinner. Equality had always been sought within work units (so that all factory workers, for example, received the same basic wage, or members of a collective farm the same share of the harvest), and distinctions among units had not been publicly acknowledged. During the Cultural Revolution, however, great stress was placed on equality in an abstract or general sense and on its symbolic acting out. Administrators and intellectuals were compelled to do manual labor, and the uneducated and unskilled were held up as examples of revolutionary virtue.

In the mid-1980s many people on the lower fringes of administration were not on the state payroll, and it was at this broad, lower level that the distinction between government employees and nongovernment workers assumed the greatest importance. In the countryside, village heads were collective sector workers, as were the teachers in village primary schools, while workers for township governments (and for all levels above them) and teachers in middle schools and universities were state employees. In the armed forces, the rank and file who served a three- to five-year enlistment at very low pay were considered citizens serving their military obligation rather than state employees. Officers, however, were state employees, and that distinction was far more significant than their rank. The distinction between state and collective-sector employment was one of the first things considered when people tried to find jobs for their children or a suitable marriage partner.

Communist Party membership

Every unit in China, from the villages through the armed forces, is run by the party, which has a monopoly on political power. Party members are in a sense the heirs of the traditional "gentry". They were a power-holding elite, dispersed over the whole country, and served as intermediaries between their own communities or units and the nation. They are recruited from the population at large on universalistic grounds of "merit," and they claim authority by their mastery of an ideology that focuses on government and public order. The ideology is contained in books, and party members were expected to be familiar with the basic texts, to continue studying them throughout their careers, and to apply them in concrete situations.

The differences between the traditional elite and the party were obvious. Party members were supposed to be revolutionaries, be devoted to changing society rather than restoring it, come from and represent the peasants and workers, and be willing to submit themselves totally and unreservedly to the party. On the whole, party members were distinctly less bookish and more military-oriented and outwardly egalitarian than traditional elites. Party members have been preferentially recruited from the poor peasantry of the interior, from the army, and from the ranks of industrial workers; intellectuals have usually found it difficult to enter the party. The party is represented in every village and every large or medium-sized enterprise in the country. The scope of its actions and concerns is much greater than that of its traditional predecessors.

Relatively speaking, there are more party members than there were traditional gentry. In 1986 the Chinese Communist Party had 44 million members in 2.6 million local party branches. This meant that about 8 percent of China's adult population belonged to the party. Not all party members held state jobs: some hold village and township-level positions, and many armed forces enlisted personnel join the party during their service. (Indeed, a chance to join the party has been one of the major attractions of military service for peasant youth.)

Party members directed most enterprises and institutions and dominated public life and discussion. Anyone with ambitions to do more than his or her daily job or work in a narrow professional specialty had to join the party. Membership was selective, and candidates had to demonstrate their zeal, devotion to party principles, and willingness to make a total commitment to the party. Ideally, membership was a complete way of life, not a job, and selection for membership depended more on assessment of an individual's total personality and "moral" character than on specific qualifications or technical skills. While this could probably be said of all communist parties, Chinese Communist Party members certainly mirrored China's traditional mandarins, who were political generalists rather than technical specialists. Party members are the intermediaries who linked enterprises and communities with high-level structures, and they could belong to more than one organization, such as a factory and a municipal party body. Party membership was virtually a requirement for upward mobility or for opportunities to leave one's original work unit.

Urban-rural distinctions

In modern China, legal distinction was made between urban and rural dwellers, and movement from rural to urban status was difficult. Urban life was felt to be far preferable, and living standards and opportunities for such advantages as education were much better in the cities. This firm and absolute distinction, which had no precedent in traditional society, was the result of a set of administrative decisions and policies that had major, if unintended, consequences for social organization. Modern Chinese society has been marked by an extraordinary degree of residential immobility, and internal migration and population movement had been limited by state control. For most of the period since 1958, there had been no legal way to move out of villages or from small cities to large cities. Although people have not inherited estates and private property, they have inherited rural or urban status, which has been a major determinant of living standards and life chances.

China's cities grew rapidly in the early and mid-1950s as rural people moved in to take advantage of the employment opportunities generated by economic growth and the expansion of heavy industry. The authorities became alarmed at this influx, both because of the cost of providing urban services (food supply, waste disposal) and because of the potential problems of unemployed or semi-employed migrants creating squatter settlements. Additionally, Chinese leaders held a certain anti-urban bias and tended to regard China's cities as unproductive. They accused city residents of living off the countryside and indulging in luxury consumption. Extolling large, smoking factories, they sought to engage the population in the manufacture of utilitarian commodities, like steel or trucks. The authorities demonstrated their bias against commerce and service trades by closing down many shops and markets. Since 1958 they have employed household registration and food rationing systems to control urban growth and general migration.

In the 1980s the distinction between urban and rural status grew mainly out of the food distribution and rationing system. Rural registrants were assumed to be growing their own staple foods, and there was no provision for state allocation of grain to them. The state monopolized the trade in grain; it collected grain in the countryside as a tax or as compulsory purchase and used it to supply its functionaries and the urban population. Urban status entitled one to purchase an allotment of grain, oil, and various other staple items. These were rationed, and a ration coupon as well as money was necessary to obtain grain legally. Ration coupons were good only in their own localities. The rationing system served several purposes. They included the fair distribution of scarce goods, prevention of private speculation in staple foods, and residence control. In addition, the police in cities kept household registration records and could make unannounced inspections, usually at night, looking for people who did not have legal permission to reside in a city. The controls have not been foolproof and have worked more effectively in times of shortages and strict political control.

In the 1980s the reasons for the administrative barriers around cities were fairly straightforward. Incomes and living standards in China's cities are two to three times higher than in the countryside. In addition, more urban dwellers have secure state jobs with their associated benefits. State investment has been concentrated in heavy industry, mostly urban, and agriculture and the rural sector have been left to their own devices, after meeting their tax obligations. The ironic consequence of a rural and peasant-based revolution has been a system that has acted, intentionally or not, to increase the social and economic gap between country and city.

Regional distinctions

Regional distinctions in ways of life and standards of living were marked in traditional China and continue to have a strong influence on contemporary Chinese society. China's size, poorly developed transportation system, and state controls on migration mean that regional differences in income and in life chances remain large. Contemporary Chinese commentary, while certainly explicit on the role of class, has tended to ignore regional variation. This may reflect the characteristic emphasis on Chinese unity and uniformity, as well as the difficulty of fitting regional analysis into a Marxist framework. Nevertheless, both geographical position and a community's position in administrative and regional hierarchies acted to limit income from sideline occupations, cash crops, village industries, and even such matters as marriage choices.

Incomes and educational standards in the 1980s were highest in the productive lower Yangtze River Valley and central Guangdong Province regions and lowest in the semi-arid highlands of the northwest and the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, as they had been since the late nineteenth century. The lowest incomes and living standards were in the peripheral areas inhabited by minority nationalities. Within all regions, there were distinctions between urban cores, intermediate areas, and peripheries. Villages on the outskirts of major cities had more opportunities for production of cash crops such as vegetables, more opportunities in sideline occupations or subcontracting for urban factories, and easier access to urban services and amenities. Higher village incomes were reflected in better housing, higher school attendance, well-appointed village meeting halls, and a high level of farm and domestic mechanization. For settlements on the periphery, however, even if only a short distance from urban centers, transportation was difficult. Such settlements had changed little in appearance since the 1950s and devoted most of their land and work force to growing staple grains. Many children in these villages dropped out of school before completing primary education, as physical strength and endurance were more highly regarded than book learning.

There has been clearly a degree of overlap in the four fields of social differentiation (work units, party membership, urban-rural distinctions, and regional distinctions). The top of the hierarchy was occupied by those who work in state organizations, belong to the party, live in a major city, and inhabit a prosperous region. Correspondingly, the least favored inhabitants were peasants whose villages were located in the remote parts of poor regions. What is most impressive about social differentiation in modern China is the extent to which key variables such as region and rural or urban status were ascribed, and not easily changed by individual effort. This was the negative side of the security and stability that attracted China's populace to the party and its programs.

Common patterns

The cellular structure of contemporary Chinese society and the Chinese Communist Party's single-party rule meant that almost all social organizations shared common characteristics. The same general description (an all-embracing social unit, whose members were assigned to it for life and which was organized on bureaucratic principles, subordinate to higher administrative levels, and managed by a branch of the party) applied to villages, schools, administrative offices, factories, or army units. All of these were work units.

Work units

In some ways, Chinese work units ("danwei") resembled the large-scale bureaucratic organizations that employed most people in economically developed societies. The unit was functionally specialized, producing a single product or service, and was internally organized into functional departments, with employees classified and rewarded according to their work skills. Professional managers ran the organization, enforced internal regulations and work rules, and negotiated with other work units and administrative superiors.

Chinese work units, however, had many distinctive qualities. Workers usually belonged to the same unit for their entire working life. The degree of commitment to the unit and the extent to which the unit affected many aspects of the individual worker's life had no parallel in other societies. Chinese work units were highly corporate, closed, permanent, and all-embracing groups. In most cases, people were either born into their units (villages counted as units) or were assigned to them when they entered the work force.

Units supplyed their members with much more than a wage. Housing in the cities was usually controlled and assigned by work units. Consequently, one's neighbors were often one's workmates. If childcare facilities were available, they would most often be provided by the work unit. Recreation facilities would be provided by the work unit. Political study was carried out with one's workmates. In the cities many people met prospective spouses either at work or through the introduction of fellow workers. For most people, social mobility took the form of working their way up within the organization.

If goods were in short supply, they would have been rationed through work units. This was the case with bicycles and sewing machines in the 1970s. The same applied to babies. As part of China's planned birth policy, unit supervisors monitored the fertility of married women and may have decided whose turn it was to have a baby (see Demographics of the People's Republic of China). At the other end of the life cycle, pensions and funeral expenses were provided by work units. Travel to another city usually required the written permission of one's work unit before a ticket could be purchased or food coupons for one's destination issued. Every unit was managed by party members, who were responsible for personnel matters. Outside the farm sector, a written dossier was kept for every member of a unit. Units were often physically distinct, occupying walled compounds whose exits were monitored by gatekeepers. The unit was thus a total community, if not a total institution, and unit membership was the single most significant aspect of individual identity in contemporary China.

Since the 1950s the individual's political life too had been centered in the work unit. Political campaigns had meant endless meetings and rallies within the unit, and when individuals were to be criticized or condemned for political deviation or bad class origins, it was done within the work unit, by fellow workers. In the post-Mao Zedong era, many people were working side by side with others whom they had publicly condemned, humiliated, or physically beaten fifteen or twenty years before. Much of the quality of life within a unit derived from the long-term nature of membership and human relations and from the impossibility of leaving. Members seemed most often to aim for affable but somewhat distant ties of "comradeship" with each other, reserving intimate friendships for a few whom they had known since childhood or schooldays.

The work-unit system, with its lifetime membership - sometimes referred to as the "iron rice bowl" - and lack of job mobility, was unique to contemporary China. It was developed during the 1950s and early 1960s with little discussion or publicity. Its origins are obscure; it most likely arose through the efforts of party cadres whose background was rural and whose experience was largely in the army and in the disciplined and all-embracing life of party branches.

The special characteristics of the Chinese work unit - such as its control over the work and lives of its members and its strict subordination to administrative superiors who controlled the resources necessary to its operation - made the unit an insular, closed entity. Units were subject to various administrative hierarchies; reports went up and orders came down. The Chinese Communist Party, as a nationwide body, linked all units and, in theory, monopolized channels of communication and command. Vertical, command relations seemed to work quite effectively, and the degree of local compliance with the orders of superior bodies was impressive. Conversely, horizontal relations with other units were often weak and tenuous, presenting a problem especially for the economy.

Wages and benefits

Much of any worker's total compensation (wages, benefits, and official and unofficial perquisites) was determined by membership in a particular work unit. There was considerable variation in the benefits associated with different work units. Although the wage structure was quite egalitarian when compared with those of other countries, wages were only part of the picture. Many of the limited goods available in China could not be bought for money. Rather, they were available only to certain favored work units. Housing was an obvious example. Many collective enterprises may have had no housing at all or offered only rudimentary dormitories for young, unmarried workers.

High-level administrative cadres and military officers may have earned three or four times more than ordinary workers; in addition, the government often granted them superior housing, the unlimited use of official automobiles and drivers, access to the best medical care in the country, opportunities for travel and vacations, and the right to purchase rare consumer goods either at elite shops or through special channels. Although China has been a socialist state, it was not exactly a welfare state. Pensions, medical benefits, and survivors' benefits were provided through work units and came out of the unit's budget. The amount and nature of benefits may have varied from unit to unit. The state, through local government bodies, did provide some minimal welfare benefits, but only to those with no unit benefits or family members able to support them.

Retirees who have put in twenty-five or thirty years in a state-run factory or a central government office could have expected a steady pension, most often at about 70 percent of their salary, and often continue to live in unit housing, especially if they had no grown children with whom they could live with. In many cases, workers had been able to retire and have their children replace them. In other cases, some large state enterprises started smaller sideline or subcontracting enterprises specifically to provide employment for the grown children of their workers. In contrast, peasants and those employed in collective enterprises generally receive no pensions and had to depend on family members for support.

Informal mechanisms of change

In China formal exchanges of everything from goods and services to information were expected to go through official channels, under the supervision of bureaucrats. Administrative channels, however, were widely acknowledged to be inadequate and subjected to inordinate delays. People responded by using and developing informal mechanisms of exchange and coordination. The most general term for such informal relations was guanxi (personal connections). Such ties were the affair of individuals rather than institutions and depended on the mutually beneficial exchange of favors, services, introductions, and so on. In China such ties were created or cultivated through invitations to meals and presentation of gifts.

Personal relations were morally and legally ambiguous, existing in a gray and ill-defined zone. In some cases, personal connections involved corruption and favoritism, as when powerful cadres "go through the back door" to win admission to college or university for their children or to place their relatives or clients in secure, state-sector jobs. In other cases, though, the use of such contacts was absolutely necessary for the survival of enterprises. Most Chinese factories, for example, employed full-time "purchasing agents," whose task was to procure essential supplies that were not available through the cumbersome state allocation system. As the economic reforms of the early 1980s have expanded the scope of market exchanges and the ability of enterprises to make their own decisions on what to produce, the role of brokers and agents of all sorts had expanded. In the countryside, village and township cadres often acted as brokers, finding markets for the commodities produced by specialized farming households and tracking down scarce inputs, such as fertilizer or fuel or spare parts for agricultural machinery.

Although the form and operation of guanxi networks clearly has traditional roots, as well as parallels in overseas Chinese societies and in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, they were not simply inheritances or holdovers from the traditional past. Personal connections and informal exchanges are a basic part of modern Chinese society, are essential to its regular functioning, and are in many ways a response to the specific political and economic structures of Chinese society. They thrived in the absence of formal, public, and overt means of exchange and may be considered a response to scarcity and to blocked official channels of communication. In modern China, those with the most extensive networks of personal connections has been cadres and party members, who have both the opportunity to meet people outside their work units and the power to do favors.

Rural society

Urban society




Traditionally, China's Confucian elite disparaged religion and religious practitioners, and the state suppressed or controlled organized religious groups. The social status of Buddhist monks and Taoist priests was low, and ordinary people did not generally look up to them as models. In the past, religion was diffused throughout the society, a matter as much of practice as of belief, and had a weak institutional structure. Essentially the same pattern continues in contemporary society, except that the ruling elite is even less religious and there are even fewer religious practitioners.

The attitude of the party has been that religion is a relic of the past, evidence of pre-scientific thinking, and something that will fade away as people become educated and acquire a scientific view of the world. On the whole, religion has not been a major issue. Cadres and party members, in ways very similar to those of Confucian elites, tend to regard many religious practitioners as charlatans out to take advantage of credulous people, who need protection. In the 1950s many Buddhist monks were returned to secular life, and monasteries and temples lost their lands in the land reform. Foreign missionaries were expelled, often after being accused of spying, and Chinese Christians, who made up only a very small proportion of the population, were the objects of suspicion because of their foreign contacts. Chinese Christian organizations were established, one for Protestants and one for Roman Catholics, which stressed that their members were loyal to the state and party. Seminaries were established to train "patriotic" Chinese clergy, and the Chinese Catholic Church rejected the authority of the Vatican, ordaining its own priests and installing its own bishops. The issue in all cases, whether involving Christians, Buddhists, or members of underground Chinese sects, was not so much doctrine or theology as recognition of the primacy of loyalty to the state and party. Folk religion was dismissed as superstition. Temples were for the most part converted to other uses, and public celebration of communal festivals stopped, but the state did not put much energy into suppressing folk religion.

During the early stages of the Cultural Revolution, in 1966 and 1967, Red Guards destroyed temples, statues, and domestic ancestral tablets as part of their violent assault on the "Four Olds" (old ideas, culture, customs, and habits). Public observances of ritual essentially halted during the Cultural Revolution decade. After 1978, the year marking the return to power of the Deng Xiaoping reformers, the party and state were more tolerant of the public expression of religion as long as it remained within carefully defined limits. Some showcase temples were restored and opened as historical sites, and some Buddhist and even Taoist practitioners were permitted to wear their robes, train a few successors, and perform rituals in the reopened temples. These actions on the part of the state can be interpreted as a confident regime's recognition of China's traditional past, in the same way that the shrine at the home of Confucius in Shandong Province has been refurbished and opened to the public. Confucian and Buddhist doctrines are not seen as a threat, and the motive is primarily one of nationalistic identification with China's past civilization.

Similar tolerance and even mild encouragement is accorded to Chinese Christians, whose churches were reopened starting in the late 1970s. As of 1987 missionaries were not permitted in China, and some Chinese Catholic clergy were imprisoned for refusing to recognize the authority of China's "patriotic" Catholic Church and its bishops.

The most important result of state toleration of religion has been improved relations with China's Islamic and Tibetan Buddhist minority populations. State patronage of Islam and Buddhism also plays a part in China's foreign relations. Much of traditional ritual and religion survives or has been revived, especially in the countryside. In the mid-1980s the official press condemned such activities as wasteful and reminded rural party members that they should neither participate in nor lead such events, but it did not make the subject a major issue. Families could worship their ancestors or traditional gods in the privacy of their homes but had to make all ritual paraphernalia (incense sticks, ancestral tablets, and so forth) themselves, as it was no longer sold in shops. The scale of public celebrations was muted, and full-time professional clergy played no role. Folk religious festivals were revived in some localities, and there was occasional rebuilding of temples and ancestral halls. In rural areas, funerals were the ritual having the least change, although observances were carried out only by family members and kin, with no professional clergy in attendance. Such modest, mostly household-based folk religious activity was largely irrelevant to the concerns of the authorities, who ignored or tolerated it.


By the mid-1980s the pace of social change in China was increasing, and, more than in any decade since the 1950s, fundamental changes in the structure of society seemed possible. The ultimate direction of social changes remained unclear, but social trends that could generate social change were evident. These trends were toward greater specialization and division of labor and toward new, more open and loosely structured forms of association (see Rural Society; Urban Society). The uniform pattern of organization of work units in agriculture, industry, public administration, and the military was beginning to shift to an organization structured to reflect its purpose. Education and technical qualification were becoming more significant for attaining high status in villages, industries, the government, or the armed forces. Opportunities for desirable jobs had remained limited, however, and competition for those jobs or for housing, urban residence, or college admission was keen.

The primary tension in Chinese society resulted from the value political leaders and ordinary citizens placed on both the social values of security and equality and the goals of economic growth and modernization. China remained a society in which all desired goods were in short supply, from arable land to secure non-manual jobs, to a seat on a city bus. Crowding was normal and pervasive. Competition and open social strife were restrained by the public belief that scarce goods were being distributed as equitably as possible and that no individual or group was being deprived of livelihood or a fair share. In the mid-1980s Chinese authorities feared that social disorder might result from popular discontent over price increases or the conspicuous wealth of relatively small segments of the population. The press frequently condemned the expressions of jealousy and envy that some people directed at those who were prospering by taking advantage of the opportunities the reformed economy offered. The rise in living standards in the 1980s may have contributed to rising expectations that could not be met without considerably more economic growth.

The tension between security and economic growth was reflected in the people's attitudes toward the work unit and the degree of control it exercised over their lives. There was no apparent reason why even a socialist, planned economy had to organize its work force into closed, insular, and sometimes nearly hereditary units. People generally liked the security and benefits provided by their units but disliked many other aspects of "unit life," such as the prohibition on changing jobs. Limited surveys in cities indicated that most people were assigned to work units arbitrarily, without regard to their wishes or skills, and felt little loyalty toward or identification with their work units. People adapted to unit life but reserved loyalties for their families at the one extreme and for the nation and "the people" at the other.

Rural reforms had essentially abolished the work unit in the countryside, along with its close control over people's activities. State and party control over the rural economy and society persisted, but individuals were accorded more autonomy, and most rural people seemed to welcome the end of production teams and production brigades. The success of these rural reforms made modification and eventually abolition of work units in the urban and state sectors possible.

By the mid-1980s the Chinese press and academic journals were discussing recruitment and movement of employees among work units. Although the discussion initially focused on scientists and technicians, whose talents were often wasted in units where they could not make full use of them, the questions raised were of general import. Such blocked mobility was recognized by China's leadership as an impediment to economic growth, and a "rational" flow of labor was listed as a goal for reform of the economy and the science and technology system. But few concrete steps had been taken to promote labor mobility, although government resolutions granted scientists and technicians the right to transfer to another unit, subject to the approval of their original work unit. The issue was politically sensitive, as it touched on the powers and perquisites of the party and of managers. Managers often refused permission to leave the unit, even to those scientists and engineers who had the formal right to apply for a transfer.

Similarly, foreign-funded joint ventures, on which China's government placed its hopes for technology transfer, found it impossible to hire the engineers and technicians they needed for high-technology work. There may have been personnel at other enterprises in the same city eager to work for the new firm, but there was no way to transfer them. In 1986 the State Council (cabinet), in a move that had little immediate effect but considerable potential, decreed that henceforth state enterprises would hire people on contracts good for only a few years and that these contract employees would be free to seek other jobs when their contracts expired (see The State Council. The contract system did not apply, as of late 1986, to workers already employed in state enterprises, but it did indicate the direction in which at least some leaders had wished to go.

The fundamental issues of scarcity, equity, and opportunity lay behind problems of balance and exchange among work units, among the larger systems of units such as those under one industry ministry, or between city and country (see Economic reform in the People's Republic of China). One of the major goals of the economic reform program in the mid-1980s was to break down barriers to the exchange of information, personnel, and goods and services that separated units, industrial systems, and geographic regions. National-level leaders decried the waste of scarce resources inherent in the attempts of industries or administrative divisions to be self-sufficient in as many areas as possible, in their duplication of research and production, and in their tendencies to hoard raw materials and skilled workers. Attempts to break down administrative barriers (such as bans on the sale of industrial products from other administrative divisions or the refusal of municipal authorities to permit factories subordinate to national ministries to collaborate with those subordinate to the municipality) were often frustrated by the efforts of those organizations that perceived themselves as advantageously placed to maintain the barriers and their unduly large share of the limited goods. Economic growth and development, which accelerated in the 1980s, was giving rise to an increasingly differentiated economic and occupational structure, within which some individuals and enterprises succeeded quite well.

Economic reforms in rural areas generated a great income spread among households, and some geographically favored areas, such as Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces, experienced more rapid economic growth than the interior or mountainous areas. The official position was that while some households were getting rich first, no one was worse off and that the economy as a whole was growing. Press commentary, however, indicated a fairly high level of official concern over public perceptions of growing inequality. The problem confronting China's leaders was to promote economic growth while retaining public confidence in society's fundamental equity and fair allocation of burdens and rewards.

The major question was whether the basic pattern of Chinese society, a cellular structure of equivalent units coordinated by the ruling party, would have continued with modifications, or whether its costs were such that it would have been replaced by a different and less uniform system. In the late 1980s, either alternative seemed possible. The outcome depended on both political forces and economic pressures. In either case, balancing individual security with opportunity had remained as the fundamental task of those who had directed Chinese society.

ee also

*Culture of China and the People's Republic of China
*Social structure of China
*Chinese social relations
*China's Generation Y


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Further reading

China's traditional society and culture:Both written after many years in Shandong Province and north China at the end of the nineteenth century::*"China's Traditional Culture: What and Whither?", Derk Bodde's brief overview.:*"Village Life in China and Chinese Characteristics", by American missionary Arthur H. Smith.

:Late traditional society::*"The City in Late Imperial China" by G. William Skinner.

Modern Chinese society:Chinese society during World War II::*"Two Kinds of Time" by Graham Peck.

:Communist era::*"A Chinese Village in Early Communist Transition" by sociologist C.K. Yang, supplies a field study of a village just outside Guangzhou and an account of the initial stages of the transformation of rural society in 1949.:*"A Daughter of the Han" by Ida Pruitt, a life history of a servant woman from Shandong Province. :*"Ideology and Organization in Communist China" by Franz Schurmann, summarized the changes of the 1950s.

:Transformation of urban society::*"Canton under Communism" by Ezra F. Vogel.:*"Careers in Shanghai" by Lynn T. White.

:Cultural Revolution::*"Hundred Day War" by William Hinton.:*"Red Guard Factionalism and the Cultural Revolution in Guangzhou" by Stanley Rosen.:*"Competitive Comrades" by Susan Shirk, illuminates competition within urban schools and its consequences.

:Autobiographical accounts of the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath::*"Son of the Revolution" by Liang Heng and Judith Shapiro.:*"To the Storm" by Yue Daiyu and Carolyn Wakeman.

:Two primary texts on modern Chinese society, based on interviews in Hong Kong in the mid-1970s: :*"Village and Family in Contemporary China" and "Urban Life in Contemporary China" written by sociologists Martin King Whyte and William L. Parish.

:Based on interviews in Hong Kong are::*"Chen Village" by Anita Chan, Richard Madsen, and Jonathan Unger.:*"Children of Mao" by Anita Chan.:*"Morality and Power in a Chinese Village" by Richard Madsen.

Periodicals:*"China Quarterly", the most important English-language journal covering modern Chinese society published in London.:*Social trends and official policies are described in a range of English-language journals published in China; the primary ones are "Beijing Review" and "China Daily".

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