There is no denying that China has experienced, and is still experiencing, radical changes, generally initiated by the vibrant market-driven economy that began in the late 1970s. The question remains, however, of what has happened to those who, just a few decades before, experienced pride and power in being part of the proletariat. How do they make sense of the past and face up to the uncertainties of the future? This book presents an anthropological investigation into their lives and memories in order to understand their situation.Presently a working-class neighborhood in Shanghai, Cucumber Lane was in the 1960s a well-known socialist “model community” being transformed from an urban slum in the 1940s. The neighborhood was further recast as a “civilized small community” in the 1990s. Based on oral histories as well as ethnographic observations and pertinent historical materials, this book portrays the ways the Chinese have been making sense of and coping with radical changes during a period punctuated by shifts in political priorities, vicissitudes in ideological orientation, changes in the way they conceive of their relationship with the state and enterprises, the (de-)politicization of social identities, the rise and fall of collectivism, and the explosive vitality of the new market economy.

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