Structuration or Individualization: Changes in the Social Stratificationin in Urban China From 1988 to 2009

Fengming MA


This paper uses the urban household survey data for 1988-2009 in the city of S to make primary research whether the person’s objective class position affects consumption patterns in the process of social inequality of urban. The results show that the urban class structuration is a substantially inverted U curve, not a linear process. In 1988-1993 during the early period of the marketization, the “destratification” and “popular” characteristics had been mainly presented and there was no significant difference in most projects in consumption patterns between classes. In 1994-2001 in the dual marketization stage, the class structuration had basiclly formed, that is, there was a significant difference in expenditure and the class taste and culture had gradually formed. Since the marketization expansion stage in 2002, the consumption patterns of class has been presented the “semi-structured” state and the explanatory power of class shows an apparent decline. With the improvement in economy, the society has entered the stage of mass consumption and person’s consumption patterns tended to be diversified and individualized.


Structuration; Individualization; Social stratification; Consumption patterns

Full Text:



Bauman, Z. (2013). Liquid modernity. John Wiley & Sons.

Beck, U. (1992). Risk society: Towards a new modernity. Sage.

Beck, U. (2002). Individualization: Institutionalized individualism and its social and political consequences. Sage.

Bian, Y., & Logan, J. R. (1996). Market transition and the persistence of power: The changing stratification system in urban China. American Sociological Review, 61, 739-758.

Bihagen, E. (1999). How do classes make use of their incomes? A test of two hypotheses concerning class and consumption on a swedish data-set from 1992. Social Indicators Research, 47(2), 119-151.

Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgment of taste. Harvard University Press.

Brubaker, R. (1985). Rethinking classical theory: The sociological vision of Pierre Bourdieu. Theory and society, 14, 745-775.

Cai, H., & Chen, Y. (2010). Income and consumption inequality in urban China: 1992-2003. Economic Development and Cultural Change 58 (3), 385-413.

Chan, T. W., & Goldthorpe, J. H. (2007). Class and status: The conceptual distinction and its empirical relevance. American Sociological Review 72(4), 512-532.

Clark, T. N., & Lipset, S. M. (1991). Are social classes dying? International Sociology, 6(4), 397.

Dieter, B. (2001). Social inequality and the sociology of life style: Material and cultural aspects of social stratification. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 60(4), 829-847.

Erickson, B. H. (1996). Culture, class, and connections. The American Journal of Sociology, 102(1), 217-251.

Featherstone, M. (1990). Perspectives on consumer culture. Sociology, 24(1), 5-22.

Gans, H. (2008). Popular culture and high culture: An analysis and evaluation of taste. Basic Books.

Giddens, A. (1981). The class structure of the advanced societies. London: Hutchinson.

Goldthorpe, J. H., & Marshall, G. (1992). The promising future of class analysis: a response to recent critiques. Sociology, 26(3), 381-400.

Grusky, D. B., & Ku, M. C. (1994). Social stratification: Class, race, and gender in sociological perspective. Westview Press Boulder.

Hout, M., & Brooks, C. (1993). The persistence of classes in post-industrial societies. International Sociology, 8(3), 259.

Morris, M., & Western, B. (1999). Inequality in earnings at the close of the twentieth century. Annual Review of Sociology, 25(1), 623-657.

Nickum, J. E. (2003). Broken eggs in the market: The rise of inequality in China. The China Journal, 119-126.

Pakulski, J., & Waters, M. (1997). The death of class. Capital & Class, 21(2), 192.

Sorensen, A. B. (2000). Toward a sounder basis for class Analysis. The American Journal of Sociology, 105(6), 1523-1558.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c)

Share us to:   


  • How to do online submission to another Journal?
  • If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:

1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author

  • Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.

2. Submission

Submit an Article

  • Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.
  • We only use three mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases:;;

 Articles published in Canadian Social Science are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY).


Address: 1055 Rue Lucien-L'Allier, Unit #772, Montreal, QC H3G 3C4, Canada.

Website: Http:// Http://,

Copyright © Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture