The Rise of the Social in China
This chapter describes how the story of the Chinese middle class started with deep changes affecting Chinese society. The reforms of the 1990s led to economic growth, a dramatic increase in living standards, the first manifestations of a consumer society and the emergence of new social representations. At the same time, the social stratification was deeply questioned. Making money, consuming, fighting to climb the social ladder and taking care of oneself as a valorizing commodity were seen as positive attributes. Simultaneously, a new group of people—middle incomers—emerged in urban areas. They were wage earners, urban, skilled, and they played a crucial role in the functioning of the new economic sectors.