Chinese New Middle Class
“Middle Class” as a phrase is foreign to majority of the Chinese. This is due to the fact that the origin of the phrase is the Western culture. Thus, the communist society in China cannot identify with such a term. Additionally, this term is associated with capitalism by the Chinese. Capitalism as a concept is not embraced properly in China. Nevertheless, the middle class in China comprises of people whose income is average. Such people belong to a group called Xiao Kang which means middle-income class when translated vaguely. This group comprises of a new population of the middle class within urban China. This population embraces neo-liberalism and modernity. In this paper, this middle-class’ development in china will be explored as well as its formation cost and the effect that it has on the social stratification in the post-socialist china especially the urban areas.
The middle-class in China comprises of the neoliberal women and men who possess certain modern characteristics. This population has embraced the modern trends because it has non-traditional characteristics. The population is stable financially because people in this class have decent employment through which they earn decent income. The class also has learned individuals. Education has offered them better opportunities at the marketplace. The social standing of this population is affected by financial stability. This class affords comfort living because it is accorded consumption power by financial stability.
The roots of the middle-class in China go back to the economic reform of 1979. Due to this reform, there was modernization which was indicated by a rapid increase in population as well as economic development. The reform also allowed most people access to education because of urbanization. Due to education, this class was able to access job opportunities with high income. Thus, they acquired wealth faster. Consequently, the middle-class was formed in China for the first time. It is due to this reason that most people in the middle-class live in the cities as well as their suburbs. There was also the integration of the first people in this middle-class with Western culture. This caused reformation of the culture of the Chinese people. These people adopted the western lifestyle to enable them to fit in the middle-class. This could be seen in the way they dressed, their consumption habits, religion, dress and diet. Technological advancement and globalization contributed to western practices’ integration in China. Chinese for instance could now access and use Western services including films, movies, books, music and news via the internet. With time, this class adopted the aspirations and dreams of Western cultures. This led to the emergence of Chinese Dream. This led to the formation of a middle-class in China via western culture’s integration.
Currently, the middle-class incurs the cost that is to be borne by China. For example, the middle-class’ formation increased the rate of economic growth because of neo-liberalism. In turn, this reduced money purchasing power. Thus, it increased the cost of vital services. This can be seen from the increased housing cost in major cities in China. These expenses are costly to meet for most families. Therefore, the living standards have been reduced. According to Zhang, the whole society in China is affected by the middle-class because it caused welfare housing-subsidies’ elimination. This allowed residents to build houses for their families using their income. This project was cancelled by the government when the middle-class emerged in order to enhance economic development.
The income of the middle-class is now spread to cover these expenditures fully. Consequently, living standards have been lowered for these individuals as well as the entire community. Additionally, everybody is required to pay housing tax by the government from monthly salaries. Further, the prices at which houses are sold by business persons in the real estate are too high because they want to make profits in order to facilitate economic development. These business persons embrace western styles in building spacious, secure, high quality and fashionable houses. Consequently, housing has become extremely expensive and unaffordable to majority of the Chinese people. Additionally, the middle-class in China prefers educating children abroad because this enhances suzhi and human capital. Suzhi means development in children in terms of excellent body and cultural qualities. According to Fong, high capital investment is required to sustain children in foreign schools. Nevertheless, children get better opportunities after studying abroad and this makes their future brighter.
Generally, middle-class’ formation in China has increased social stratification within the post-socialist China especially in urban centers. This is due to the emphasis that has been placed on class, reputation, wealth and power. People’s categorization is now based on political, social and economic status. Thus, the political power of a person depends on their social and economic status within urban China. The current status will eventually change to give power to individuals in the middle class because of their current high social and economic status. Consequently, social stratification, democracy and capitalism will be advanced in the post-socialist towns in China. Thus, there are both disadvantages and advantages of the middle-class in China.
In conclusion, the roots of the new Chinese middle-class go back to the economic reform that occurred in 1979. This is because the reform led to high education level and urbanization. It has both disadvantages and advantages to the community. For instance, housing and education costs have increased because of this social class. Additionally, this class can take over power in China politics. This will increase social stratification and in turn improve democracy.