Abstract:Many studies of the Chinese middle class focus on defining it and viewing its significance for economic development and its potential for sociopolitical modernisation. This book goes beyond such objective approaches and considers middle class people's subjective understanding and diverse experiences of class. Based on extensive original research including social surveys and detailed interviews, the book explores who the middle class think they are, what they think about a wide range of socioeconomic and sociopolitical issues, and why they think as they do. It examines attitudes towards the welfare state, social inequality, nationalism, relations with foreign countries and opinions on many social controversies, thereby portraying middle class people as more than simply luxury consumers and potential agents of democracy. The book concludes that a clear class identity and political consciousness have yet to emerge, but that middle class attitudes are best characterised as searching for a balance between old and new, the traditional and the foreign, the principled and the pragmatic.