Durable Inequality in China: Legacies of Revolutions and Pitfalls of Reform – Ching Kwan Lee and Mark Selden

From Japan Focus:

Since the early 1980s, China has been hailed as the poster child of post-socialist transition, shifting its revolutionary course via a reform that has generated the world’s most dynamic growth in GNP and trade over a quarter of a century and elevated it to the forefront of nations attracting foreign investment. Often eclipsed in this glowing picture of reform are enduring, indeed exacerbated, structures of inequality and the vibrant forms of popular resistance these have spawned. So too are the inequalities of the revolutionary era, including both persisting historical legacies and new forms of inequality. This article seeks to provide a framework both for assessing structures of Chinese inequality in successive epochs of revolution and reform and for gauging the changing relationship between social movements and structures of inequality. Three key questions drive the analysis: What are the legacies of the Chinese Revolution for the pursuit of social equality? How has reform restructured patterns of inequality? What is the relationship between the social upheavals that took place during both periods and changing patterns of inequality? [Full text]

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