East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

June 2 Workshop


East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society Presents


“When Socialism Meets Market: The Reconstruction of Economic Discourse in China, 1976-1992”

Wen Xie

PhD Student, Department of Sociology

University of Chicago


4:30-6pm, Tuesday

June 2, 2015

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.


China underwent profound economic and social transformations in the past few decades. Even though it developed a robust private economy, a speculative stock market, and reformed state-owned enterprises, China remains to be a socialist country. At different stages of economic reform, the Chinese state put forward new formulations for its current economic model of socialism, such as planned commodity economy and socialist market economy. This raises two related puzzles: why the Chinese reformers were obsessed with such semantic games of socialism during the economic reform, and how capitalist economic practice was made possible under the name of socialism. To answer these puzzles, I examine the discourse of socialism and market economy in an official newspaper and economists’ writings, especially between 1976 and 1992. In the presentation, I will show that the market economy in China has a Marxist origin and the key breakthrough of the economic reform was distribution issues. Then I discuss how socialism as the official ideology became a key venue for the authoritarian state to maintain legitimacy and reshape the boundary between the political and economic, which left imprints on the configuration of its political economy in the 1990s and 2000s. In the end, I will provide further implications for comparative political economy.


Workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/

Student coordinator: Wen Xie (wxie@uchicago.edu)

Faculty sponsors: Dali Yang, Dingxin Zhao and Zheng Michael Song


This presentation is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences andCenter for East Asian Studies. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinator in advance.

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