Farewell to Class, except the Middle Class: The Politics of Class Analysis in Contemporary China

Japan Focus
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Journal Article
Japan Focus: an Asia Pacific Journal, 2008, 3181 (Special Issue on Class), pp. 1 - 18
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Anthony Giddens was right to emphasize that `[a] large part of the chequered history of the concept of class has to be understood in terms of the changing concerns of those who have made use of the notion, concerns which reflect changing directions of emphasis within sociology itself (1977: 99). It must be added, though, that those concerns also reflect value-ridden perceptions about the structure of societies and social models, and indeed the changing structures and prevailing political and social values in society. Even the shifting emphasis in social analysis that Giddens refers to may reflect emerging ideologies within the profession and within the broader context of social relations, notably paradigm shifts. This is certainly the case with the use of the class concept and methodologies of class analysis in the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) over the last two to three decades.
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