Role of other classes, aside from middle class, in China

Recent posts concern research related to the middle class in China. A related addressed topic in  Government Next Door (2015) is the role of other classes, in China aside, from the increasingly wealthy middle class.

Luigi Tomba speaks (pp. 148-149) of a proactive role for the middle class and “advanced forces” in “moralizing society.” He notes this role contrasts sharply with the attitude toward “vulnerable groups” including people laid off from state-run enterprises; people who have never been included in the state sector; and rural migrant workers. In the following excerpt I have omitted references to footnotes and have broken the longer text into shorter paragraphs.

The text serves as a form of alternative, high-end journalism presented as political science research. A good alternative career path for would-be journalists, given the current status of the newspaper industry, includes anthropological, political science, and legal writing of the kind available online and at your local public library.

A useful companion piece to Tomba’s study is a project, aimed at professionals in the United States, entitled Community Organizing: Theory and Practice (2015).

Responsibilities according to advantaged and disadvantaged groups in China (Luigi Tomba 2015: 149)

“These groups are said to have a ‘very low ability to represent and pursue their own interests,’ to have few resources and, ‘despite their sheer number, not [to be] able to voice their interests.’

“The solution suggested for these groups is not to facilitate organization of their collective interests but rather ‘to rely on the govern­ment and the media to express their concerns.’

“So while the ‘advanced forces’ of the middle class are given ‘extra responsibilities’ in the creation of the harmonious society, the disadvantaged groups are deemed to require extra patronage from the state, so that they do not resort to ‘unreasonable methods’ (a euphemism for violence) to represent their interests.

“Residential segregation and spatial zoning produce the effect of project­ing this distinction between those who govern themselves and those who are governed by others onto the urban landscape. Communities of middle-class owners with access to resources are expected to practice self-government and achieve autonomy, but the urban underclass is still very much de­pendent on the direct institutional discipline exercised by neighborhood institutions through the social service network.

“So while an increasingly wealthy middle class can shut the gates of its residential compounds and avoid the interference of state-sponsored mass organizations such as com­munity committees, in Shenyang’s working-class areas, badly hit by years of industrial restructuring, state-sponsored community organizations have been revitalized and are becoming increasingly central to the well-being of large numbers of unemployed and needy citizens. Faced with a declining standard of living, a growing risk of unrest, and the closure of many work units, the welfare system has shifted to a more localized, residence-based form of delivery.”

[End of excerpt]


A text that reminds a reader, in a vivid way, of topics that are otherwise treated in a manner that is academic and abstract, is featured in a Jan. 22, 2015 Guardian article entitled: “I want you to understand the sense of fear that Chinese people feel every day.”

A Feb. 19, 2015 New York Times article is entitled: ” ‘The Most Wanted Man in China’ and ‘The Cowshed.’ ”


Also of interest: One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment (2016).

A Nov. 7, 2016 Guardian article is entitled: “Hong Kong pro-democracy politicians banned by China as crisis grows: Beijing makes landmark ruling on future of former British colony, barring two pro-democracy parliamentarians from office.”

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