The introduction of market reforms since 1978 has brought about far-reaching changes not only in China’s economy but also in the nature and structure of society. Decollectivisation, the Open Policy and the growth of a private economy have given birth to new socioeconomic groups such as rich farmers, private traders, private entrepreneurs and Chinese managers in foreign-invested enterprises. The structure of society in post-Mao China has become more stratified, differentiated and complex. The mechanisms and institutions of social control have become out-of-synch with these rapid social changes. The reforms have created a space for new institutional forms of association such as private entrepreneurs’ associations, literary societies and professional associations and even stamp clubs. These ‘social organisations’ have mushroomed rapidly, particularly in the coastal provinces.
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