Children of the Cultural Revolution: Family Life and Political Behavior in Mao's China

By Xiaowei Zang | Go to book overview

1
INTRODUCTION

Children of the Cultural Revolution refers to the Red Guard generation, children who were in China's primary and secondary schools at the outset of the Cultural Revolution in 1966. Many Western scholars have studied the Red Guard generation. 1 I draw insights from their writings to develop new understanding and a fresh perspective on family life and behavioral development before and during the Cultural Revolution. I also seek to discover and analyze the factors that influence political behavior in China in general.

To help readers better appreciate what I aim to achieve in this book, it is necessary that I explain a few important concepts and my methodology.


The Cultural Revolution

The term, Cultural Revolution, is commonly used to refer to the 1966-1976 decade of relentless social upheaval in the People's Republic of China. In essence, the Cultural Revolution was a result of the power struggle between Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party (hereafter the CCP), and Liu Shaoqi, President of the People's Republic of China. It arose from their different concepts of culture and art, educational reforms, economic policies, the nature of political institutions and, ultimately, what each saw as the proper road to socialism in China. 2

Mao was angered by prevailing bourgeois attitudes in the sciences and culture and by persistent inequality in income and prestige between mental and manual labor, between rural and urban areas, and between workers and peasants. What alarmed him most, however, was his belief that Liu Shaoqi and his followers had formed a bourgeois dictatorship, controlling the masses in state enterprises, public hospitals, schools, research institutes and other government organizations. 3

In 1966 Mao plotted to oust Liu from the power circle. Liu, however, was firmly supported by many CCP leaders and government officials. Mao thus decided to dismantle the CCP system and the government hierarchy in order to "purify" the bureaucracy. Making certain that the People's Liberation Army (hereafter the PLA) endorsed his plan, Mao then called on the youth of China to launch the Cultural Revolution. He declared that it was justifiable to rebel

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Children of the Cultural Revolution: Family Life and Political Behavior in Mao's China
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • Notes 10
  • 2 - The Political Status System 13
  • Notes 20
  • 3 - Job Ranking and Social Classes 23
  • Notes 38
  • 4 - Class and Caste 41
  • Notes 47
  • 5 - Family Life and Political Behavior in Pre-1966 China 49
  • Notes 61
  • 6 - The Upper Caste Middle Class 63
  • Notes 80
  • 7 - The Upper Caste Lower Class 82
  • Notes 90
  • 8 - The Lower Caste 91
  • Notes 102
  • 9 - Class, Caste and Political Behavior in China 103
  • Notes 110
  • Appendix Notes on Methodology 112
  • Notes 118
  • Bibliography 119
  • Index 129
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