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The Paradox of Middle-Class Attitudes in China: Democracy, Social Stability, and Reform

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Miao, Ying

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Abstract This article explores the seemingly paradoxical attitudes of the Chinese middle class towards democracy, social stability, and reform. Using fieldwork data from Ningbo, this article shows that a group of objective, middle-class individuals can concurrently display high levels of support for democratic principles and low levels of participation in real-life socio-political events. Being generally confident in China’s social stability, these individuals have little to no desire for significant democratic reform, or indeed any reform that occurs outside the purview of the state, as it is considered destabilising. By highlighting the distinction between how these members of the middle class respond to generic democratic concepts, real-life socio-political affairs, and the idea of democratic reform, this article argues that the Chinese middle class are aware of what “should be,” what “could be,” and what “is,” which lends their socio-political attitudes a paradoxical appearance. (author's abstract)
Keywords China; middle class; value change; political attitude; value; value-orientation; social stability; democratization; political reform; disposition to reform; attitude research; Far East
Classification General Sociology, Basic Research, General Concepts and History of Sociology, Sociological Theories; Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Document language English
Publication Year 2016
Page/Pages p. 169-190
Journal Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 45 (2016) 1
Issue topic Policy Implementation in the New Socialist Countryside
ISSN 1868-4874
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-NoDerivs