Shanghai’s S white-collar workers have a gap in the sharing of social experiences and values

This "gap” refers to the notion that the current S white-collar group in Shanghai can be divided into two age groups: “about 45 years old” and "about 30 years old”, and a large gap exists between the values held by these two age groups. Most of the white-collar workers of “about 45 years old” were bom around the beginning of the founding of the People's Republic of China. They have experienced the three stages of the "Cuhural Revolution”, "Beginning of Reform” and "Deepening of Reform”. Their value recognition is relatively simple. The "about 30-year-old” portion of white-collar group is essentially a cohort of people born after the "Cuhural Revolution”; their value system is more inclined to multi-value recognition. Shanghai's "about 30-year-old” S white-collar group can be divided into several segments based on social experience. These segments include Shanghai-born locals, locally-educated people, educated youth returning to Shanghai, intellecmal elites from outside Shanghai, and so on. Different life experiences lead to some differences in behaviors and moral concepts between the segments. The “gap” in the sharing of values and the differentiation in social experience have caused Shanghai's S white-collar group to fracture into multiple segments, and its social role as an integrated group with internal identity has been weakened.

Shanghai’s S white collar group has not yet formed stable norms of behavior, public knowledge system or value recognition

The formation of the Western white-collar group has gone through a long process, with a history of even hundreds of years. In the Western white-collar group, the inheritance of behavioral norms, technical knowledge, adaptability to competition, recognition of mainstream values and social responsibility among the new and old white-collar workers has obvious continuity. As early as the era of free capitalism, when social production developed to a certain scale and the social division of labor reached a certain degree in the UK and other Western developed countries, the capital owner was supplanted by the occupational manager to undertake the command and management of the enterprise. This can be seen as the embryonic form of the white-collar worker. After the middle- and late-19th century, the capitalist economy developed rapidly, leading to the emergence of a number of mega-style family businesses. In these family-owned companies, the hierarchical middle-management system that adapts to the new demands of competition has cultivated a group of modern management pioneers—the middle managers. This group of middle managers provided much of the traditions for the modern concept of white-collar workers in capitalist countries and the formation of standards for the group. In contrast, the current S white-collar group in Shanghai have matured rapidly over the last 20 years. Their knowledge systems and experience mechanisms have not undergone a process of accumulation and gradual precipitation. Internal behavioral norms, public knowledge and sense of social responsibility have not yet formed.

The above analysis of the social mentality of the Shanghai's white-collar group shows that there are many similarities and differences between the Shanghai's white-collar group and the Western white-collar group. For example, from the perspective of "weak political participation” or “political guard”, there are many similarities between the Shanghai's white-collar workers and the white-collar workers in developed Western countries. The Shanghai’s white-collar workers have a greater sense of anxiety and pressure in life than Western white-collar workers. It is particularly noteworthy that the Shanghai's white-collar workers’ social experience, the sharing of values, as well as the lacking in behavioral rules, public knowledge systems and value recognition have rendered this group unable to form actual relatively consistent behaviors of self-interest, as well as a sense of identity and belonging to group. From this point of view, there are many uncertainties surrounding the status and function of the Shanghai's white-collar group in the social strucmre. Therefore, we camiot simply use the Western version of the theory of white-collar class as an analogy to Shanghai's emerging white-collar workers. For this reason, this article temporarily considers them as a group rather than a class.

 
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