On Shanghai’s middle class: a preliminary survey report
In the past 20 years, new concepts and vocabulary have kept emerging to classify and characterize China’s middle class, via cultural symbols related to consumerism. Today, the middle-class culture at its post-nascent state has taken on some new features. The current study, which is based on a survey of the cultural situation of the middle class in Shanghai, found that the new features are mainly manifested in three aspects. First, they like being outdoors, close to nature, doing some extreme sports. Second, being aware of the importance of fitness and wellbeing, they tend to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Third, they all suffer some sort of anxiety. These new features come as a result of three intertwined underlying causes, i.e. the rapid deterioration of the natural environment, the widespread home culture, and the mounting political and economic pressure. Together, they mark a turn in the middle-class culture from external identity to inward physical and mental needs. As Shanghai’s middle-class culture is most representative of that of the country, a basic judgement and preliminary conclusion can be made based on the survey about the cultural situation of the Chinese middle class as a whole.
Zhu, Shanjie. Associate Research Fellow, Department of Cultural Studies, College of Liberal Arts, Shanghai University. Research interests: Contemporary Rural and Urban Studies.
Zhu, Qiaolian. Associate Professor, School of Foreign Languages, Shanghai University. Research interests: Translation and Interpreting Studies.