The structure of social classes and strata since the reform and opening up

In 1978, China began to reform and open up, and the transition from the planned economic system to a socialist market economic system got underway. The reform of the economic system continues to deepen. The ownership structure has changed fr om single public ownership to a system of mixed ownership in which a variety of economic elements develop side by side each other, with public ownership as the mainstay. The industrial structure has also undergone profound changes, and the national economy continues to develop steadily and rapidly. Along with the economic development and changes in the economic structure, profound changes have also occurred in China’s social structure including the urban-rural structure and the employment structure. The structure of social strata comprised of the working class, the peasantry, and the intellectual stratum has also undergone profound changes. The peasant class has undergone division of labor and has become smaller in scale. The working class has also gone through division of labor, but greatly expanded in scale. The stratum of intellectuals has changed

Structure of social classes, strata in China 195 the most - their social status has generally improved, and then ranks are getting larger and larger. New social str ata have emerged. Tire whole structure of social strata has developed in tire direction of diversification. Hie mechanisms of social differentiation and social mobility have changed, the channels of social mobility have increased, the pace of mobility has accelerated, and the whole society is frill of vitality. It is evolving in the direction of a modem str atum structure compatible with the socialist market economic system.

In early 2002, the research group on the changes of social structure in China from the Institute of Sociology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences published the Research Report on Social Strata in Contemporary China. Based on a classification of occupation and using the possession of organizational, economic, and cultural resources as the criteria, the book classifies the members of the society into 10 strata: state and social management personnel, managers, private business owners, professional and technical personnel, clerical personnel, individual industrial and commercial households, business service personnel, industrial workers, agricultural laborers, and unemployed and semi-unemployed people in urban and rural areas. The results of the sample survey conducted in 1999 showed the scale of each stratum (the proportion of all employed people) as follows: 2.1, 1.5, 0.6, 5.1, 4.8, 4.2, 12, 22.6, 44, and 3.1. Now 10 years have passed, and the research report has been published for nearly eight years. Recently, the research group has studied the changes in China’s structure of social strata and also reviewed and reflected on the published research results.

First, ort stratification based on occupational classification and by using the possession of organizational, economic, and cultural resources as criteria in general accord with reality. The 10 major strata in contemporary China classified in this way basically cover all social members. Some people suggest that we should add the strata of religious and retired people. I thiiik this can be done by specifying the stratifying criteria. For example, religious temples are actually also a large unit, and its members can also be included in the stratification scheme.15

Second, 10 years’ practice has shown that the ranking of the 10 social strata in the research report is still valid; only the scale and the number of people in each stratum have changed.

Without doubt, since 1999, under the impetus of industrialization, urbanization, marketization, internationalization, and modernization, especially after China’s accession to the WTO, China’s economic development has embarked on a fast track. Against the background of already relatively larger figures of economic growth, China’s GDP has an average increase rate of more than 10% annually. Even in the face of the international financial crisis in 1908, the growth rate still reached 9%, and in 2009, it exceeded 8%. In these past 10 years, China’s overall national strength has been greatly enhanced, people’s living standards have been generally improved, and China’s international influence is continuously growing. It has become the world’s third largest economy, and the country with the largest foreign exchange reserve. It is under the strong impetus of economic development that China’s social structure and the structure of social strata have undergone even more profound changes, which can be summarized as follows.

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