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The Transformation Of The Chinese Class Structure, 1978–2005

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Chapter Summary

This chapter investigates the transformation of the Chinese class structure and class inequality since economic reforms. Drawing from neo-Marxian class theory, the chapter develops a Chinese class schema based on the unique socialist institutions, such as the household registration system (hukou), the work unit (danwei), and the cadre-worker distinction, which are associated with the ownership of different types of productive assets. Using data from several national representative surveys from 1988 to 2005, the chapter shows the expansion of new capitalist classes and the declines in the numbers of both peasants and state workers, and finds that the class structure has shifted to a trajectory of proletarianization, particularly since 1992. Both capitalists and cadres are the main winners of the economic transitions, whereas peasants, workers in the private sector, and even the self-employed are the losers.

Keywords: capitalist classes; Chinese class structure; neo-Marxian class theory



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