1st Edition

The Chinese Lifestyle The Reconfiguration of the Middle Class in Contemporary China

By Alfonso Sanchez-Romera Copyright 2023
    196 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    196 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.

    Introduction: The Paradigm of the Middle Class in Contemporary China

    1.  The Discursive Reconfiguration: Class and Discourse Construction After Reform

    2.  The Intellectual Reconfiguration. Definitions, Ideology and the Hidden Agenda

    3.  Class Reproduction and Cultural Consumption: The Reconfiguration of the Distinctive Trajectories from the Centre

    4.  Celebrities, Happiness, and Romance: The Reconfiguration of the Motivation to Achieve

    5.  Family, Friends, and the Community: The Reconfiguration of the Private and Public Spheres

    Conclusions: New Configurations to a Post-Pandemic Future


    Alfonso Sánchez-Romera is a researcher at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (InterAsia Research Group) and postdoctoral fellow at Freie Universität Berlin. He graduated in Humanities and East Asian Studies and holds a PhD in Intercultural Studies. His research interests include middle class, Chinese society and discourse analysis.