Socioeconomic Changes and Value Modernization in China: Changes and Continuity 1993-2011

  • Wang, Zhengxu (School of Contemporary Chinese Studies University of Nottingham)
  • Published : 2015.05.31


As China's economic development brings the country out of poverty and into modernity, a long-lasting debate concerns whether the Chinese public's value system is also changing toward the so-called "modern values," or whether some distinctly traditional Chinese values remain unchanged. Using empirical data collected at three points in time during the 1990s and the first two decades of the 21st Century (1993, 2002, and 2011), I found that Chinese citizens who benefitted from urbanization, rising levels of education and employment in non-farm, knowledge-based industries displayed stronger modern values. People with stronger modern values are more likely to emphasize individual autonomy, competition, gender equality, and market transaction, among others. Some characteristics of the Chinese people, most importantly family values, however, seem to remain stable amidst rapid social changes.


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