Thought Reform and China's Dangerous Classes: Reeducation, Resistance, and the People

Thought Reform and China's Dangerous Classes: Reeducation, Resistance, and the People

by Aminda M. Smith
     
 

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This book offers the first detailed study of the essential relationship between thought reform and the “dangerous classes”—the prostitutes, beggars, petty criminals, and other “lumpenproletarians” the Communists saw as a threat to society and the revolution. Aminda Smith takes readers inside early-PRC reformatories, where the new state… See more details below

Overview

This book offers the first detailed study of the essential relationship between thought reform and the “dangerous classes”—the prostitutes, beggars, petty criminals, and other “lumpenproletarians” the Communists saw as a threat to society and the revolution. Aminda Smith takes readers inside early-PRC reformatories, where the new state endeavored to transform “vagrants” into members of the laboring masses. As places where “the people” were literally created, these centers became testing grounds for rapidly changing ideas and experiments about thought reform and the subjects they produced. Smith explores reformatories as institutions dedicated to molding new socialist citizens and as symbolic spaces in which internees, cadres, and the ordinary masses made sense of what it meant to be a member of the people in the People’s Republic. Drawing on extensive, previously unavailable source material, she offers convincing answers to much-debated questions about the development and future of Chinese political culture.

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Editorial Reviews

Steve Smith
This is a highly original book on an important topic. Using material that was top-secret until recently, Aminda Smith presents a series of fascinating case histories of individuals subjected to thought reform and demonstrates how thought reform was central to the drive by the Communists to remake the social structure in their own image and to extend their authority into society. She provides a new and imaginative reading of the consolidation of Communist power and what the revolution meant for those on the margins of society.
Jeremy Brown
Aminda Smith is at the forefront of a new generation of scholars writing the history of the People’s Republic of China. Her book explores how the Chinese Communist Party’s ideal vision for society clashed with the complicated lives of people on the margins during the 1950s. Rich with compelling human voices, Smith’s work combines impressive archival discoveries with sophisticated analysis. It not only tells us new things about the 1950s, it also helps to explain why the Communist Party has continued to use reeducation-through-labor in recent years.
The American Historical Review
Aminda M. Smith faithfully and in many ways imaginatively addresses a lacuna in our understanding of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) attitudes toward the social underclass, first during the revolution that brought the party to power, and later after the party assumed control in the 1950s. This monograph sheds new light on the origins of the CCP’s extrajudicial ways of dealing with a wide range of social types it deemed not fully supportive of the revolution, and with alleged offenders against the old and new social orders. . . . Smith’s scholarship is rich in details and statistics. . . . This book’s strength is in depicting changes in how the Chinese revolutionaries saw the 'dangerous classes' and the social forces that motivated them, and sometimes how those 'classes' viewed their own reformation.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442218390
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
11/15/2012
Series:
Asia/Pacific/Perspectives
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
268
File size:
1 MB

What People are saying about this

Steve Smith
This is a highly original book on an important topic. Using material that was top-secret until recently, Aminda Smith presents a series of fascinating case histories of individuals subjected to thought reform and demonstrates how thought reform was central to the drive by the Communists to remake the social structure in their own image and to extend their authority into society. She provides a new and imaginative reading of the consolidation of Communist power and what the revolution meant for those on the margins of society.
Jeremy Brown
Aminda Smith is at the forefront of a new generation of scholars writing the history of the People’s Republic of China. Her book explores how the Chinese Communist Party’s ideal vision for society clashed with the complicated lives of people on the margins during the 1950s. Rich with compelling human voices, Smith’s work combines impressive archival discoveries with sophisticated analysis. It not only tells us new things about the 1950s, it also helps to explain why the Communist Party has continued to use reeducation-through-labor in recent years.

Read More

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