Political Desocialization: The Cultural Revolution’s Aftermath

  • Anita Chan


‘During the Cultural Revolution, it was action, action, action all the time’, one of the ex-Rebels recalls, ‘There was no time to think.’ But once driven back into the classroom and then almost immediately into the countryside (or, for some, into jail), there was ample time and a lot to think about. The two years of whirlwind involvement in the Cultural Revolution had been a jumble of emotional experiences; of events one after another, without being prepared for them; of constant immediate reactions to new political situations. Now that their ‘revolutionary passion’ had been spent, they could sit back and ‘synthesize the experiences’.


Young People State Farm Cultural Revolution Class Background Young Sister 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    For discussions of the problems of the sent-down youth policy before and after the Cultural Revolution, see Gordon White, ‘The Politics of Hsia-hsiang Youth’, China Quarterly, no. 59 (July 1974) 491–517;Google Scholar
  2. Thomas Bernstein, ‘Urban Youth in the Countryside: Problems of Adaptation and Remedies’, China Quarterly, no. 69 (March 1977) 75–108; andGoogle Scholar
  3. Jonathan Unger, ‘China’s Troubled Down-to-the-Countryside Campaign’, Contemporary China, vol. iii, no. 2 (Summer 1979) 72–92.Google Scholar
  4. 2.
    See Jonathan Unger, Education Under Mao (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982) chs 7, 8, 9 and 10. The new recruitment policy specified that the applicants should be recommended by their work units. Since academic qualifications counted for little, this practice opened the door to the use of influence by parents who had power.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Ted Tapper, Political Education and Stability: Elite Responses to Political Conflict (London: John Wiley, 1976) p. 35.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Barrie Stacey, Political Socialization in Western Society: An Analysis from a Life-span Perspective (London: Edward Arnold, 1978) pp. 70–4.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    The term ‘desocialization experience’ is used in David C. Schwartz and Sandra Kenyon Schwartz, ‘New Directions in Political Socialization’, in Schwartz and Schwartz (eds), New Directions in Political Socialization (New York: Free Press, 1975) p. 16.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    See, e.g. Kazuko Tsurumi, Social Change and the Individual — Japan Before and After Defeat in World War II (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1970).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Anita Chan 1985

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  • Anita Chan

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