Model workers in China's economic reforms

By Bo Ærenlund Sørensen. The seminar is open for all.

Photo: Bo Ærenlund Sørensen

Even before the establishment of the PRC in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party had begun the practice of selecting “model workers” for popular imitation, and this tradition persists up until today. This presentation examines how the Chinese party-state in the early years of post-Mao economic reforms (1977-1990) attempted to employ “model workers” in its quest to re-shape popular norms, emotions, and expectations to make these fit with the evolving reform program.

The presentation will also grapple with the question of why the party-state has found it attractive to disseminate model worker narratives. I will argue that this tradition has its roots in philosophical and ontological notions of personhood in China, which constitute cultural aquifers that continue to nourish particular PRC policies and media representations all the way up to the present.

Published Jan. 15, 2018 1:48 PM - Last modified Jan. 29, 2019 4:00 PM