Dorothy J. Solinger is professor emerita of political science at the University of California, Irvine.
Introduction: State Policies, Castes, and Agency
Dorothy J. Solinger
Part I: Polarization: Scope, Causes, Manifestations
1 China’s Uphill Battle Against Inequality
2 Convergence and Divergence Among the Rich and the Poor
Part II: Portraits of the Urban Poor
3 Banish the Impoverished Past: The Predicament of the Abandoned Urban Poor
4 The Passionate Poor: Foxconn Workers Invited as Volunteers
Mun Young Cho
5 On the Rough Edge of Prosperity: Informal Migrant Recyclers in Beijing
Part III: The Upper Reaches of the Urban Rich
6 China’s Party Kings: Shanghai Club Cultures and Status Consumption, 1920s–2010s
Andrew David Field and James Farrer
7 Corruption, Anti-Corruption, and the Dynamics of Class: Formation in Post-Mao China
Urban Polarities: Inequality, Social Mobility, and the Role of the State
David S. G. Goodman
About the Contributors
Going beyond the statistics on expanding social inequality, this important book, authored by world authorities on urban China, provides a stunning account of drastic social contrasts. The portraits of the rich and poor reveal not only their monumentally disparate lifestyles but also variegated agencies and life opportunities. Solinger’s marvelous conceptual design brings the two social extremes under the same scrutiny.
This richly researched volume shows that, even though China's four decades of economic growth have lifted tens of millions of Chinese out of poverty, they have also created rigid structures of inequality and diverging mobility opportunities. China has also been rapidly urbanizing in recent decades, and today more than half of all Chinese live in cities. The dramatic contrasts between the fabulous and flaunted wealth of urban elites and the struggles of rural migrants and the urban poor documented by researchers in this volume will add fuel to debates about whether socialism any longer has meaning in contemporary China.
This is an important book, tackling the most salient feature of Chinese society today: its polarization between the wealthy and the poor. Solinger's insights into the caste-like ‘hierarchy of agency’ in contemporary China are fresh and illuminating, and the case study chapters provide fascinating—and unsettling—details about the daily lives of Chinese citizens from across the socio-economic spectrum.