By Richard Curt Kraus
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Extra resources for Class Conflict in Chinese Socialism (Studies of the East Asian Institute)
Its parallel ladders of neatly graded steps have emerged from the social reorganization which has been led by the Communist bureaucracy. As work-grades have usurped the economic aspects of the class designations, the property model has increasingl y become a measure of political status. of social honor. 36 TWO MODELS Of STRATIFICATION Another obviolls distinction between the two models is Iocational. As the child of land reform, the property model is more elaborately drawn, and was more systematically applied in rural China than in.
25 Unlike social stratification, which typically deals with the relative placement of individuals on a scale of individuals, class is an abstraction for understanding the characteristics of groups within total societies. The ranking of individuals according to income or wealth may describe the distribution of benefits in society, but when such an enterprise is not bound up with a theory of how groups arc related to production, it says nothing about class. Unlike social stratification, which is essentially a static concept, class is embedded in history, is dynamic, and is centered upon the question of change.
Contract workers, employed seasonally and drawn from agriculture, may not be graded in this system at all. Given the egalitarian tone of Maoist politics, it is striking that the work-grade hierarchy, like the cadre work-grades, has remained unchanged in its basic structure up to the present, including throughout the turbulent years of the Cultural Revolution. Reasons for this durability will be taken up in a later chapter, but it suggests that workers have had ample time to become accustomed to a clear hierarchy of positions by which they may gauge their relative standing.