I have shown in Chapter 3 that stratification by occupational rank supplanted the old class system as a good guide to the socioeconomic position of individual Chinese in Mao's China. However, "class" designations and political role labels persisted as an officially structured carryover from the pre-1949 social relationships. Richard Kraus stresses that these two social hierarchies were abstractions and could not capture the rich complexity of social inequality in Mao's China. There was inequality in sex, age, geographical region, etc. Nevertheless, these two hierarchies were the most important dimensions of social stratification, constituting a key enabling us to understand the web of social relationships before and during the Cultural Revolution. 1
Richard Kraus further points out that these two modes of stratification did not exist in isolation. They intertwined with each other and formed an important historical context within which a new set of social relationships emerged in China. 2 The most crucial aspect of the class system was its universal characteristic. People of both the upper and lower castes were represented within each class as defined by income, prestige and status. In other words, every Chinese was described simultaneously by both the caste hierarchy and class system. 3
It is necessary to point out that these two scales measure different qualities. A person's position in one social hierarchy might not accord with his or her position as measured by the other. Before 1966, a person with a lower caste origin was not necessarily a member of the lower class. In fact, a substantial proportion of the upper and middle classes in the Mao era came from families with lower caste status. Several important historical factors contributed to the intertwining of class and caste.
The interaction of class and caste in the Mao era occurred mainly because of the pre-1949 Communist Revolution. In essence, the Chinese Communist Movement was a peasant rebellion under the leadership of revolutionary