The Chinese Lifestyle The Reconfiguration of the Middle Class in Contemporary China
Alfonso Sánchez Romera – 2023
The research presented in this book explores the formation of the middle class in contemporary urban China. Including case studies on middle-class professionals living in Beijing, this book analyses how social and economic changes to Chinese society create a middle-class lifestyle and new forms of distinction with a particular focus on the social construction of identity. Looking through the lens of individuals’ perception of life trajectories and ideological taxonomies generated within the framework of post-Maoist China, the book uncovers the role that the Chinese middle-class play in a state-sponsored discourse and where the distinctions identifying the middle-class lifestyle produce inequality, transfer privilege, and disadvantage in contemporary urban China. It goes on to question hegemonic discourses on class, arguing that a middle-class identity is progressively constructed in urban China not only though consumption practices, but through the experience of non-individualistic activities in both the public and private spheres. Analyzing how social distinctions are performed contributes to the understanding of the Chinese middle-class pre-pandemic, as well as the continual challenges this social group shall face in the years to come. As such, this is a must read for those interested in the Chinese middle-class, Chinese politics, and gender studies.