From Asian Currents:
Economic reform in the People’s Republic of China [PRC] since 1980 has seen the emergence of new categories of wealth and power. Collectively and colloquially these categories have been referred to as the ‘new rich’. They have also been referred to both inside and outside of the PRC as the new middle class. Patterns of consumption and discourses of change suggest there are good reasons for accepting their designation in terms of middle classness. At the same time there is a need for caution.
The term middle class can refer to a range of social categories, from the high bourgeoisie, the captains of industry of the nineteenth century in northwest Europe, to the managerial servants of the state and the economy that emerged in industrialised societies in the first half of the twentieth century. [Full Text]
David S G Goodman is Professor of Contemporary China Studies at The Institute for International Studies, UTS.