The Taste and Tragedy of China’s “Middle Class”
The birth and development of the “middle class” in China since the 1990s is a phenomenon that attracts worldwide attention, and is investigated in this chapter. In China’s public media, the life of the Chinese middle class is always tied in with such discourses as “taste” (品味) and “inner quality” (素质), which show a class distinction and elitist mindset. Two movies, Green Tea (2002) and The Contract (2006), about the newly emergent class are worthy of particular attention. Although they are both produced by Sixth Generation directors, they are publicly released, which affords us a glimpse of the middle class’s living conditions, idiosyncratic manner and its difference from the Western bourgeoisie. China’s young middle class is unable to understand the historical experiences of the Cultural Revolution, which contributes to their inability to understand the present and the past. The divergence between the two films informs us of the truth of contemporary Chinese “middle-class society,” as well as its structure and consciousness.
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