This research investigates how social groups in China defined by income, education, and hukou status-a citizenship classification system based on birthright-differ in the criteria they use in the self-evaluation of their social position in the society. I combine interview and survey data to investigate both how and why my respondents assign themselves to certain position along the social spectrum. First, I review three bodies of literature-class identification, subjective social status, and boundary work-to highlight the notion of dimensionality. Second, I use 2009 survey data from China to demonstrate general patterns in the respondents’ subjective social status. Using my statistical results, I identify and compare four groups of respondents defined by income, education, and hukou status. Third, I analyze 40 in-depth interviews with respondents in the said groups. I find that money and power are salient in the response of all four groups while the other dimensions such as the sense of belonging and respect are shared within specific income, education, or hukou groups, but not across them. While my quantitative findings show where these social groups locate themselves along the social hierarchy, my qualitative findings explain how and why they perceive their social status the way they do.
American Journal of Cultural Sociology – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 9, 2017
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