Market reform in China has led not just to economic growth, but also to a momentous transformation of Chinese society, with the simple, enclosed, rigid peasant hierarchy of the Mao era being replaced by an open, modern and evolving system. Most studies of social change in China have focused on marketisation and privatisation, and on the occupations most directly affected by these changes, and have not addressed issues of social mobility directly. This book considers the various theories of social mobility and class structure and explores how these apply to current changes in China. It pays particular attention to the impact of the Hukou peasant registration system on rural-urban migration and on differences between urban workers and migrant rural workers; and also on the impact of gender on social mobility. Overall, it concludes that there is increasing social mobility in China; but that institutional structures including inheritance and the Hukou registration system act increasingly as barriers to social mobility; that the class boundaries are growing between the new service middle class and the agricultural labour class; that social mobility for women in not increasing; and that the evolution of the Chinese class structure in China follows a pattern similar to that found in other modernised industrial societies.
Table of contents:
Introduction 1. Social Changes and Class Structure in Retrospect: 1949 - Present 2. Debates on Market Transition Theory, Data Resources and Methodology 3. Trends in Class Mobility in Urban China: 1996 vs. 2006 4. Class Structure and the Patterns of Intergenerational Fluidity in Urban China: 1996 vs. 2006 5. Diminishing Hukou Registration System? Urban-Rural Gap Re-examined 6. Gender Segregation in the Labour Market 7. Conclusion
Yang Jing is a Visiting Research Fellow at the East Asia Institute, National University of Singapore.