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The Teahouse under Socialism: The Decline and Renewal of Public Life in Chengdu, 1950-2000
Di Wang
PublisherCornell University Press
Publication PlaceIthaca, New York

This book explores urban public life through the microcosm of the Chengdu teahouse. Like most public spaces, the teahouse was and still is an enduring symbol of Chinese popular culture, stemming back centuries and prevailing through political transformations, modernization, and globalization. The time period covered begins basically with the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949-50, goes through the end of the Cultural Revolution and into the post-Mao reform era. We see clearly that the role and importance of the teahouse changed abruptly, going from severe constriction in its operations to a time when public spaces flourished unrestricted. During the Mao era, the state achieved tight control over society generally, and it was able to penetrate to the very core of society in order to control almost all its resources. Thus, the spaces usually available for sociality and for the natural development of social activities were sharply limited. The post-Mao economic reforms were a turning point in public life because everyday life was dominated by sweeping “open-market” economic reforms that were structured within a unique type of socialist political system, and to a significant degree public life moved away from state control. This book can enhance our understanding of public life and political culture in Chengdu under the Communist state, with its political needs and agendas; from there we may reflect on the situation of other Chinese cities.

KeywordTeahouse Chengdu Public Life Socialist State Public Sphere Small Business Social Transformation Urban China
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Document TypeBook
AffiliationDepartment of History, University of Macau
First Author AffilicationUniversity of Macau
Recommended Citation
GB/T 7714
Di Wang. The Teahouse under Socialism: The Decline and Renewal of Public Life in Chengdu, 1950-2000[M]. Ithaca, New York:Cornell University Press,2018.
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