Unequal Distribution of Cultural Capital in China_

Document Sample
Unequal Distribution of Cultural Capital in China_ Powered By Docstoc
					Book Reading in Urban China

The Uneven Distribution of Cultural Capital: Book Reading in Urban China


Shaoguang Wang Chinese University of Hong Kong

Deborah Davis Yale University

Yanjie Bian Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

December 7, 2004

Book Reading in Urban China

The Uneven Distribution of Cultural Capital: Book Reading in Urban China


With Pierre Bourdieu and Richard A. Peterson as our points of departure, this exploratory study examines to what extent cultural capital coincides with other dimensions of social and regional inequality in urban China. Drawing on interviews with 400 couples in four Chinese cities in 1998, the paper documents variations in reading habit by occupational class, city of residence, gender, education, and age. Our analysis shows that social class can to large extent explain differences in reading habit. There are also significant regional variations within each occupational class. In addition, we find that gender, education and age have their effects on people’s reading habits.

Key words: Cultural capital, class, regional disparity, inequality, China Word count: 7,918


Book Reading in Urban China


Beginning with Weber ([1922] 1978), there emerged theoretical acknowledgment of the importance of cultural as well as economic dimensions in forming power structures in society. By applying an economic metaphor, Bourdieu calls usable cultural resources “cultural capital.” What matters here is not intrinsic aesthetic value of cultural materials, but their “symbolic power.” In most societies, cultural choices are vertically ranked so that some are viewed socially “high” while others are socially “low.” Consequently distinction in cultural taste with respect to such seemingly trivial things as clothing, leisure pastimes, music, reading, and so on can serve as a device to signify social standing and to maintain, reinforce, and reproduce already existing social structure (Bourdieu 1984, 1985). Like economic capital, cultural capital is unequally distributed across social space. It has been established by numerous empirical studies that the distribution of cultural capital often correspond to other dimensions of human activities and of social structure (DiMaggio, 1987, 1991, 1994; DiMaggio & Ostrower, 1990; Davis 1992; Ganzeboom & Kraaykamp, 1992; Aschaffenburg, 1995; Katz-Gerro & Shavit. 1998; Katz-Gerro, 1999). In this sense, any study of social inequality would be incomplete if it fails to take into consideration the unequal distribution of cultural capital (Wilson, 1980; Sobel, 1983; Rojek, 1985; Zolberg, 1990; Lamont & Fournier, 1992; Ultee, Batenburg & Ganzeboom, 1992). In the China field, however, the study of social stratification has predominantly focused on economic dimension. To date, differentiated cultural tastes have been largely overlooked. As an initial effort to fill up the lacuna in contemporary scholarship, this article reports on variation in reading habits tracked during a year long study of consumption practices among 400 urban couples in 1998 in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin and Wuhan. By doing so, we attempt to address two related questions raised by Bourdieu in the context of urban China: how is cultural capital differentially distributed across social space, and what do the observed patterns of distribution tell us about the contemporary Chinese society?2 Section I begins with a discussion on how to define cultural capital, followed by theoretical explorations of possible factors that may affect its distribution. Our focus is placed on two test variables: individual attributes and geographic location. 3

Book Reading in Urban China

Using differentiation of preferences in book reading as an indicator of cultural capital, Section II operationalizes both dependent and independent variables for this study. To obtain valid measurements of people’s book reading preferences, Section III first applies the method of factor analysis to classify various book genres and literary authors into a manageable number of cultural and literary categories. Then, it investigates the extent to which differentiation in reading preferences are related to other dimensions of social stratification and to geographic location. Section IV reports the results of our regression analysis, which shows that social class can to large extent explain differences in reading behavior. Party/government officials, professionals and enterprise managers, for instance, possess significantly more cultural assets than service workers, production workers, and self-employed. In addition, geographic location proves to be a significantly differentiating factor. Contrary to conventional wisdom, however, Shanghai residents appear to read less than their counterparts in the other three cities. And, their literary tastes are no higher, either. In sum, individuals from different social classes and different regions exhibit significantly different patterns of cultural preferences. This observation sheds new light on the nature of the emerging social structure in contemporary China.

Cultural Segmentation and Its Determinants

Two Conceptions of Cultural Capital Our theoretical point of departure is Pierre Bourdieu’s analytic framework of multiple capitals (Bourdieu, 1984). According to Bourdieu, the social structure of an advanced capitalist society is not simply a hierarchy determined by income and property ownership. Rather, it is a muddy “social space” in which multiple forms of capital define hierarchically and horizontally distinctive social positions. Although any asset, resource, or good that is valued in society can be a capital (Bourdieu, 1985), in his analytic showcase, Distinction, Bourdieu (1984) primarily focuses on economic and cultural capitals. In France, he shows, professionals and industrial/commercial employers form distinct classes in social space not only because they possess economic capitals, but also because they have distinct orientations of consumption, distinct tastes for cultural products, and more generally, distinct lifestyles or habitus (Bourdieu 1984: Figures 5 and 14).


Book Reading in Urban China

In Bourdieu’s model (1984), cultural capital is mainly embodied in people’s cultural tastes. The culture of the highest class is viewed as the most distinguished culture. Dominant classes (or fractions of them) can use their distinct cultural tastes as both an indicator of their social status and as an instrument to maintain their advantage in social, economic, and cultural arenas. Cultural tastes here operate as an exclusionary device for distinguishing among social groups and a means for facilitating class cohesion (or elite solidarity). Richard A. Peterson (Peterson and Simkus 1992; Peterson 1992; Peterson & Kern 1996), however, presents a different model of cultural capital. According to him, although higher-status people are more likely to consume highbrow culture than are lower status people, they do not limit their tastes to the highbrow. Instead, they indulge more in many sorts of culture, not just the most elite forms. Equipped with knowledge about wide-range of cultural genres, those people can navigate successfully in many settings, including, for instance, making a better impression in job interviews, in social relations on the job, or in building up social networks that can help in getting jobs or doing jobs (DiMaggio, & Mohr, 1985; DiMaggio, Evans, & Bryson. 1996). In Peterson’s terms, high status people are not cultural “snobs” but cultural “omnivores.” At the same time, Peterson labels those in the lowest occupational groups as “univores,” because they tend to have little contact with or knowledge of spheres beyond their class, locality, race, ethnicity, and religion. What distinguish “omnivores” from “univores” are not distinctive tastes but familiarity with various cultural genres (Erickson 1996). Thus, cultural capital may exist in two forms: distinct tastes and cultural repertoire. By generating either “a hierarchy of tastes” or “a hierarchy of knowledge” (Erickson, 1996: 219), cultural capital can function both as a practical identifier of social boundaries and a theoretical construct of class distinction.

The Importance of Book Reading In this exploratory study, we focus on only one cultural activity—book reading in leisure time. Individual reading tastes are often thought so idiosyncratic as to present any perceptible social patterns. For several reasons, however, we believe that reading habits is an ideal metric for gauging differentiated cultural patterns among the population.


Book Reading in Urban China

First, while highbrow cultural activities are often accessible only to a selected few, books are widely available in stores and libraries. Indeed, reading was found to be one of the most popular leisure activities among our respondents in all four cities, second only to watching television. Investigating this type of cultural activity thus may produce high response rates with little bias. Second, book reading is done away from the workplace. While people’s behaviors at work are largely dictated by their positions, their behaviors during leisure time are of their free choices, which can better reflect their true preferences. Third, reading is an individualized activity, in which personal choices and preferences may prevail over shared decisions that characterize television watching among family members. Fourth, reading allows substantial differentiation of cultural tastes. Books differ in many ways, with some more demanding than others. Yet, people with very different backgrounds can always find suitable reading material for themselves. The types of books a person read can serve as a good behavioral indicator of his/her cultural preferences in general. Finally and most importantly, preferences for certain types of books and familiarity with specific authors have become widely accepted as indicators in comparison of cultural diversity and societal cleavages (Bourdieu, 1984; Erickson, 1996; Kraaykamp & Dijkstrab, 1999; Kraaykamp & Nieuwbeerta. 2000; Van Rees, Vermunt & Verboord 1999; Stokmans 1999; Tepper, 2000).3 For these reasons, a study of reading habits not only allows insights into the cultural dimension of social inequality in contemporary China but also puts our data directly into dialogue with a larger, comparative literature on cultural preferences and social class.4

Possible Determinants of Cultural Segmentation Given the importance of cultural capital in creating identity, fabricating solidarity, practicing exclusion, and reproducing existing social structure (Bourdieu 1984; Erickson, 1991; Lamont 1992), it is interesting to investigate what are the key determinants of cultural differences. Inspired by researches done elsewhere, this study proposes a multi-causal explanation of cultural segmentation, focusing on the role of social class and regional subculture.



Book Reading in Urban China

A hundred years ago, Veblen ([1899] 1953) already noted that cultural taste and preference were dependent on the social position of an individual in society. Later sociological researchers also emphasize that cultural orientations are shaped in many ways by social class (Gans, 1974; DiMaggio & Useem, 1978; DiMaggio, 1982; Hall, 1992; Halle, 1993; Milner, 1999). Giddens’s theory of class structuration (1973), for instance, suggests that groups with roughly similar economic positions tend to have distinctive experiences in other areas of social life. Thus, economic relationships may become translated into “non-economic” social structures and people’s cultural orientations (Giddens 1973: 105). Bourdieu also views culture as constitutive of class position, because a class may face conditions of existence and have experience of life different from other classes’. No matter how diverse such conditions and experiences may be at the individual level, they form what Bourdieu calls the “class habitus,” or a “system of durable, transposable dispositions” (partially) common to the members of a particular class (Bourdieu 1977: 72). Thus class is expected to be the main determinant of cultural preferences (Breen & Rottman 1995; Scott 1996). Bourdieu’s critics question whether there exists a straightforward relation between social position and cultural taste. Rather than viewing class and taste nearly isomorphic, a number of North American studies have found that cultural tastes may cut across class boundaries (Lamont 1992; Peterson, 1992; Peterson & Simkus 1992). Peterson’s analyses of patterns of cultural choice, for instance, find that high status people in the United States do not form an exclusive taste public. However, by distinguishing omnivores from univores, Peterson actually returns to a class-based approach, only to replace Bourdieu’s highbrow-lowbrow divide between classes with an omnivore-to-univore one. To the extent that higher-class people are normally familiar with more cultural genres than lower class people, culture is still related to class.

Regional Subculture Whereas class is the variable most often used in the sociological literature to explain cultural differences among the population, there is reason to believe that such differences can also be explained, at least in part, by regional subcultures.(DiMaggio & Peterson, 1975; Gastil, 1975). In China, just as in any other large countries, common cultural patterns are often perceptible within a given region and such regionspecific patterns may work as a means of distinguishing this region from others, thus 7

Book Reading in Urban China

giving its residents a sense of cultural identity. Wherever regional cultural differences are not attributable to the obvious regional variation in social structure, demographic composition, education, or standard of living, we may call them “subcultures.” Such cultural dispositions are likely to be transmittable from one generation to next within given regions through the normal channels of socialization independent of structural influences (Hebdige, 1979; Marsden et al. 1982; Marsden & Reed 1983; Lamont, Schmalzbauer, Waller & Weber, 1996). In studies of contemporary China, there has been little explicit comparison of cultural taste/knowledge among several metropolitan areas. One of the goals of our work therefore is to use individual reading preferences to explore the influence of people’s geographic location on their cultural consumption.5 In China, Shanghai has long been presumed to be China’s culturally most sophisticated city. Based on history, the level of socioeconomic development, the accessibility of cultural facilities (see Table 1), and the degree of openness to cultures outside China, we expect that residents of Shanghai to be culturally advantaged over their counterparts in the other three cities.

[Table 1 about here]

The distribution of cultural interests and abilities may also be influenced by gender, education, and age. The main purpose of our paper is to examine to what extent cultural differences can be predicted by class and regional subculture. In what follows, we will assess the relative importance of each of the two types of factors while controlling for other theoretically significant demographic variables.

Data and Measurements

Data The data used in this essay were collected during a year long interview project that the authors conducted in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin, and Wuhan in 1998 and 1999. A total of 400 households were chosen by random selection from household registries that listed the occupations of the household heads. Each household was visited four times at approximately 3-month intervals between January 1998 and January 1999. In addition to the home interviews where spouses were interviewed 8

Book Reading in Urban China

separately for between 60 and 90 minutes, each husband or wife was asked to complete two daily logs of social interactions: the first during the spring festival (Chinese New Year) of 1998 and the second in May 1998. Because we were especially concerned with lifestyle distinctions among different white-collar occupational groups, the initial sample of 100 households in each city included 60 households headed by men who held management or professional positions. In each city, we selected 20 households headed by managers above section level in government or party agencies, 20 households headed by managers above section chief in industrial or commercial enterprises, 20 households headed by professionals in state agencies or enterprises, 20 households headed by industrial or service workers in state or collective enterprises, and 20 households by private entrepreneurs. However, because the rapid growth of the non-state sector over the decade of the 1990s created higher levels of job mobility than household registries could capture, the occupational distribution resulted from the survey was not the same as we had originally planned. The goal of this intensive and extensive survey was not to create a representative sample of all urban households, but rather to collect a detailed portrait of how households headed by the emerging political and managerial elite defined their lifestyle and social lives in comparison to their blue-collar neighbors and the selfemployed. In any event, the dataset obviously leaves much to be desired. First, it covers only four major metropolises, thus neglecting small and medium cities altogether. Second, with a total of 800 respondents, the sample size is quite small. Third, since the 800 respondents consist of 400 married couples, dependency of partners is inevitable. Finally, the sample substantially over-represents elite. Due to these drawbacks, whatever conclusions this study may draw about urban China, they should be seen as tentative rather than as conclusive.

Indicators of Cultural Knowledge and Taste The main purpose of our survey was to provide a “social cartography” of everything that counts as “culture” in broad sense, including respondents’ ownership of durable household items, eating habits, friendships, and participation in 40 different leisure activities. In particular, the survey included a module of questions designed to


Book Reading in Urban China

measure respondents’ reading habits: the choices and manifested preferences of their reading activities, which are used here to serve as indicators of cultural capital.

Reading knowledge and taste To gauge respondents’ cultural knowledge and taste, we asked them how often they read books among 22 genres. Their answers were scored on a four point scale ranging from “never” (0), “rarely” (1), “sometime” (2) to “often” (3). The distribution of book genre preferences among residents in the four cities is presented in Table 1. As the mean scores reveal, there is a wide range of engagement. Most genres attract only a small readership and only two have score above 1.40, which means that more than half of respondents saying they read books of a particular type sometimes or often. The most popular genres include professional books, educational books, and books on current affairs, while the least popular choices include science fiction and religious books. A respondent’s scope of cultural knowledge is measured by counting the number of book genres s/he has read, while her/his cultural taste is measured by a method described in the next section.

Literary knowledge and taste To further assess respondents’ literary knowledge and taste, we asked them for their opinion of 20 well-known classical and contemporary literary authors. The scale of literary author preferences ranged from "never heard of” (0), “know name but haven’t read” (1), “read but don’t like” (2), “read but no opinion” (3), to "like it very much" (4). Table 2 summarizes the results. Among the most liked authors are Cao Xueqin, Lu Xun, and Su Dongpo. The least favored author is Wang Xiaobo, followed by Su Tong and Wang Anyi. A respondent’s scope of literary knowledge is measured by counting the number of authors read, while her/his literary taste is measured again by a method discussed in the next section. In all the cities, questions were asked in the same fashion. This four-city design gives us a better way to test the tenability of our explanatory mechanisms than does a single-city design. The regional differences in reading habit are exhibited in Tables 2 and 3. Visible differences in mean score between the four cities are present for book genre preferences as well as literary author preferences. For the most part, these 10

Book Reading in Urban China

differences show Shanghai residents to be less likely participating in book reading than others. As Table 2 reveals, Shanghai’s scores for all book genres are lower than the four city averages. As a matter of fact, the Shanghai residents’ readership is ranked the lowest for 19 of the 22 book genres among the four cities. For literary authors, Shanghai residents apparently favor Wang Anyi, a local writer.6 Otherwise, they do not read as much as do residents in the other three cities.

[Tables 2 and 3 about here]

There are many possible explanations for the city differences found in Tables 2 and 3. One of them is the differential demographic composition of respondents in the four cities. If significant differences between Shanghai and the other three cities remain after taking account of this possibility, however, we then have little alternative but to conclude that, as far as book reading is concerned, Shanghai residents possess less cultural capital than residents in the other three cities. We will use the technique of multiple regression analysis to remove variations in reading habit due to factors other than region of residence in the next section.

Explanatory Variables Class: Inspired by Wright’s (1985) three major class dimensions: control of property, control of organizations, and control of skill, we reassign respondents to eight class categories based upon their own job descriptions. Wright’s class approach is adopted here because it emphasizes location in structures of domination and exploitation, which, in our judgment, is applicable to the post-reform China. The eight categories include two for control of property (private owner and self-employed) and two for control of organizations (enterprise managers and government/party officials). Since people who control some kinds of skill form a large and varied part of the workforce, we use four categories for this dimension (including professionals, whitecollar administrative staff, blue-collar production workers, and service workers).


Book Reading in Urban China

1) Service workers: occupants of these jobs are unskilled or semi-skilled employees who provide direct services, including retail clerks, repairpersons, cooks, janitors, and drivers. 2) Production workers: occupants of these jobs are blue-collar manual laborers who are directly involved in production. 3) Self-employed: occupants of these jobs are self-employed service or production workers who do not employ others and have few capital assets. In most Chinese surveys they are described as getihu (个体户). 4) Private owners: occupants of these jobs are also self-employed but they employ others and also own substantial capital assets. 5) Administrative staff: occupants of these jobs are office staffs who perform routine white-collar tasks. 6) Professionals: occupants of these jobs have specialized secondary or postsecondary education and perform non-routine white collar jobs but do not have supervisory positions above section chief. 7) Enterprise Managers: occupants of these jobs hold supervisory positions above section chief in an industrial or other profit making enterprises. 8) Government or Party Officials: occupants of these jobs hold supervisory positions above section chief in government or party agencies.

In the regression analysis reported in the next section, the service worker is the omitted/reference category. City dummies: To capture some of the regional variations of contemporary China, our survey selected two cities that by 1998 had leapt ahead in terms of income and living standards—Shenzhen, a special economic zone adjacent to Hong Kong and Shanghai at the mouth of the Yangtze river—and two that were closer to the national average—Tianjin in North China and Wuhan in the Central-south. Wuhan is the omitted/reference city. Gender: Gender differences in cultural consumption have been noted in numerous empirical studies (Netz 1996; Bihagen & Katz-Gerro 2000; Tepper 2000). Whereas some researches suggest that women participate less in highbrow culture (Green et al. 1990; Samuel 1996), others come to the exactly the opposite conclusion that women are inclined to engage more in highbrow culture (DiMaggio 1982; Bryson


Book Reading in Urban China

1996). Either way, we should be mindful of gender salience in shaping cultural consumption patterns independently of other socio-economic factors (Lamont & Lareau 1988; Collins 1992; Shaw 1994; Belloni 1996). This makes it necessary to include gender as an explanatory variable. To tap gender differences, we compare men to the reference category of women. Education: Education has been universally seen as one of the main determinants of cultural differences. Education not only enables people to accumulate cultural knowledge but also increases their competence of aesthetic appreciation. Therefore individuals with higher levels of education are expected to engage more in high cultural activities and retain larger cultural repertoire than others (Gans 1974). Empirical studies have indeed shown that education is a very strong predictor of people’s cultural preferences (Bennett, Emmison & Frow 1999). Education here is measured by years of schooling. Age: There is little doubt that age may have certain effects on people’s possession of cultural assets. On the one hand, people may increase the scope of their knowledge with regard to cultural genres as they become older (an age effect). On the other hand, each generation may have its distinctive cultural preferences (a cohort effect), which is one of the reasons we often observe so-called “generation gaps.” The two types of effects are often intertwined so that it is not easy to make prediction about them. In this study, age is measured continuously (in years).


In this section, we first describe the construction of the dependent variables—taste clusters and the cultural contents they represent and then move on to analyze how differences in cultural knowledge and taste (measured by book genre preferences) and literary knowledge and taste (measured by literary author preference) are related to class and locality net of the effects of gender, education, and age.

Reading Taste Clusters Our survey included questions regarding 22 book genres and 20 literary authors. In order to identify the patterns of reading habit, we have to reduce this bewildering variety of reading activities to a more manageable number of taste clusters (Marsden & Swingle 1994). For this purpose, we carry out separate factor analyses with 13

Book Reading in Urban China

Oblimin rotation of respondents’ book genre preferences and literary author preferences.7 In Table 4 we see that book genre preferences produce four distinct factors. The cumulative explained variance of the factors is relatively high, 58.7 percent; all of the four factors have an eigen-value that is higher than one. The first factor is composed of items that are either aesthetically coded (e.g. literature, poetry and the like) or have a predominantly factual or documentary orientation (e.g. history books, biographies). These genres are supposedly associated with high-culture. Four types of popular fictions make up the second factor. The third factor mainly consists of items that may interest business executives. The final factor is composed of items related to family life, such as “children’s education” and “everyday life knowledge.”

[Table 4 about here] Similarly, our attempt to discern underlying relations between respondents’ literary author preferences produce four factors that explain 55.4 percent of the total variance of the items (Table 5). The first factor includes such authors of contemporary novels as Wang Anyi, Su Tong, and Wang Xiaobo. Although Qian Zhongshu first published his famous novel Besieged City in the 1940s, his name did not become known to most of Chinese until the early 1980s. Thus, it is not surprising that he is included in this category. It is widely accepted that the preference for contemporary literary authors marks a high-cultural taste. The second factor is composed of authors whose works were strongly recommended by the government in the 1950s through the 1980s. Some of their works were even included in middle school and high school textbooks. The third factor covers only two female authors of popular romance fictions from Taiwan, namely, Qiong Yao and San Mao. The last factor consists of authors whose works we label “pink classics.” Except Jin Yong, those authors’ works were widely circulated in the 1950s-1980s, but regarded not as “revolutionary” as those covered by the second factor. Two authors, namely, Feng Jicai and Zhang Ailing, do not load high on any single factor. Perhaps, their works can fit into more than one category.

[Table 5 about here]


Book Reading in Urban China

A common practice in the study of cultural taste is to classify certain items as highbrow, middlebrow, or lowbrow subjectively (Levine, 1988; Bourdieu, 1990; Rubin, 1992). Our approach is different. Rather than relying upon our subjective judgment, we create a metric of reading tastes that emerge from respondents own preferences for specific genres and specific authors. This method allows us to go beyond the common highbrow/lowbrow distinction. Regression Analysis Having reduced the 42 separate reading preferences to eight types of taste clusters, we are now in a position to answer the question with regard to the relationships among reading tastes, class, and locality net of intervening variables. We address this question by using multiple regression analysis of our dependent variables on all the independent variables. Table 6 presents the results from five multivariate regression models regarding respondents’ knowledge and taste for various types of book genres, while Table 7 reports the results of five regression models regarding their knowledge and taste for specific literary authors. The coefficients reported in those two tables are standardized ones (β) and may be interpreted as showing the net contribution or “effect” of each of the independent variables listed at the left holding constant all other factors.

The Determinants of Cultural Knowledge and Taste (Table 6) Like Bourdieu and Peterson, we find a strong class effect on reading habits whether we examine genre knowledge or genre taste. Those in authority at workplace (party/government officials and enterprise managers) and with expert skills (professionals) not only read highbrow books (Column 2) more often but also read significantly more widely across genres than other groups (Column 1). With regard to family-related books (Column 3), management-related books (Column 4), and popular fictions (Column 5), class distinction seems less consistent and weaker. Professionals, administrative staff, and production workers read more family-related books than others do, while enterprise managers are particularly interested in reading management-related books. In the case of fictions, class has almost no effect. Only administrative staff read significantly more. The most interesting finding of Table 6 is that, as far as book genre knowledge and taste are concerned, two newly emerged classes who own capital assets (private business owners and self-employed) closely


Book Reading in Urban China

resemble the working class (production workers and service workers) rather than classes who either control organizational assets or possess skill or credential assets. This is probably where China differs from most advanced capitalist societies.

[Table 6 about here]

Across all indicators of breadth of reading and book genre preference except for fictions, Shanghai residents consistently score lower than their counterparts in the other cities and the effect (β) of Shanghai residence is often stronger than that of class, gender, or age (Columns 1-4). Since these coefficients indicate net effects holding all other attributes constant, the pattern is particularly noteworthy. In terms of genre knowledge (Column 1) men score higher than women and the younger score higher than the elder, even after we control for education and occupation. However, the effect is not consistent in terms of genre taste. For highbrow book genre (Column 2), age difference is insignificant and men do better than women. Apparently, growing older does not necessarily increase people’s cultural competence here. But the young and women seem to be more interested in family-related books than do men and the elder. Conversely, men are more active in reading managementrelated books. As for fictions, though, there is no gender difference. Young people are most likely to read this genre. Education does make a difference. Those who receive more education tend to read more genres of books than those who do not. Education is also a strong determinant of reading tastes. It has a very strong positive association with reading highbrow and family-related books, as is indicated by its large standardized coefficients.

The Determinants of Literary Knowledge and Taste (Table 7) In terms of the scope of literary knowledge, political and cultural elites vastly excel all other occupational classes. However, economic elites are internally split. While enterprise managers somewhat resemble officials and professionals, private business owners act more like workers, and self-employed appears to be a social group that ranks the lowest in terms of literary knowledge (Column 1). As for literary taste, compared to working classes, party/government officials and professionals are more inclined to read contemporary novels and pink classics but 16

Book Reading in Urban China

not red classics and affective romance fictions. Enterprise managers consume more contemporary novels, but not anything else. Private business owners are quite peculiar for they distinguish themselves from other classes by reading more romance fictions (Columns 2-5).

[Table 7 about here]

As expected, education makes a big difference in literature appreciation. The higher one’s education level is, the more authors s/he reads. Those with high education are truly “omnivores,” loving reading not only contemporary novels but also “red” and “pink” classics. Only low cultural romance fictions cannot arouse their enthusiasm. While differences in occupation class and education produce the most consistent effects on the engagement with a variety of literary works, gender, age, and locale produce varied and sometimes contradictory outcomes. For example, age overall has no impact on the number of authors read, but the older respondents read significantly more red classics, while the young read more romantic fiction. Although our data don’t allow us to make a strong conclusion, we hypothesize that the distinctive reading habits of older respondents may reflect a cohort difference attributable to the distinctive content of their primary and secondary school curriculum prior to the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). Also of note is the absence of any gender difference in overall number of authors read, but a clear preference for pink classics among men, and for romantic fiction among women. Similar to the results on engagement with book genres, we find that Shanghai residents stand out from their counterparts in the other three cities as being less engaged in and less knowledgeable about literary readings. However, there is variation across genres that further substantiate our argument about the significance of regional variation. While the residents of Shanghai and Shenzhen overall score lower on the number of literary authors read and much lower when it comes to reading “red classics”, Shenzhen residents do not score lower on reading contemporary novels and romance fictions, and Shanghai resident do not score lower on reading pink classics and romance fictions. In contrast, Tianjin residents display a particularly strong distaste for “contemporary novels” and “pink classics.”


Book Reading in Urban China


Cultural capital can be conceptualized as distinct cultural taste or cultural repertoire. Hence, cultural inequality may manifest itself in the form of either “a hierarchy of tastes” or “a hierarchy of knowledge” (Erickson 1996: 219). By examining social and regional differentiations in reading practices, this article applies a multi-causal model to assess the determinants of cultural inequality in urban China. Two broad conclusions can be drawn from the empirical findings reported in this study. First, class proves to be the most consistently differentiating factor, and second, geography often leaves an equally significant mark. A cultural divide between elite classes and working classes is quite visible whether we look at reading habit in general or literary reading in particular. Overall, those in managerial and professional occupations are most likely to read books that are intellectually challenging and books with literary prestige. At the same time, they are also more likely to have knowledge about a wide range of book genres and literary authors. By contrast, those in blue-collar jobs are uniformly less active in book reading regardless of genres. Among all classes, the self-employed appear to be ranked the lowest in terms of cultural capital possession. People in this class engage themselves in book reading even less than production workers and service workers. This probably has to do with the fact that most self-employed were either unable to obtain jobs in the formal economic sector or have been laid off from the formal sector. Private business owners also constitute a peculiar case. They own more economic capital than people in any other classes. Yet, unlike other elites, they seem to have possessed little cultural capital. As far as book reading is concerned, they resemble working classes much more than elite classes. Perhaps, this newly emerging capitalist class is still in the process of formation. It would be interesting to reexamine if its cultural repertoires and profiles will change ten or twenty years from now. An interesting exception to the above observation is in the area of popular fiction books, a genre that the Chinese culture generally holds in low esteem. Here we find surprising homogeneity across nearly all occupational classes, transcending even the fundamental gap between elite classes on the one hand and self-employed and other manual laborers on the other. Instead, when one looks at preference for the fiction books, the main divide is by age, a finding closely in keeping with other studies of mass consumption that show cohort trumping class (Davis 2000). 18

Book Reading in Urban China

Our analyses give rise to a general conclusion that the Chinese society is differentiated not only along the economic line but also along the cultural line. Individuals from different social classes have significantly diverse patterns of cultural consumption. Or speaking in the vocabulary of European and North American social science, cultural capital is unequally distributed among occupational classes, which, in turn, may help partially define and crystallize boundaries between social classes. To the extent that cultural capital in forms of diversified cultural knowledge or ability to appreciate high cultural products gives one advantages to engage in all kinds of socioeconomic activities, whoever possesses more cultural capital in China may be more capable to adapt to this hybrid, fast changing society. Yet, while class membership matters, it is not the only factor to have effects on cultural preferences. A regional pattern of culture capital distribution is also quite evident, albeit the regional profiles of readership are not what we would expect. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, we find Shanghai residents to be the least avid readers. Compared to their counterparts in the other cities, they are distinguished by a lower level of readership in all book genres except popular fiction books. Their literary knowledge and tastes are also generally low. We thus are led to the conclusion that, at least as far as book reading is concerned, residents in Shanghai possess less rather than more cultural capital than people living elsewhere. How do we explain this puzzling discovery? Some may suspect that our respondents in Shanghai must have understood survey questions differently or been more willing to admit being ignorant than those living in the other cities. This is possible but unlikely. For one thing, the rate of “never heard of” responses to our questions about literary authors are not the lowest among Shanghai residents. Another possibility is that Shanghai people have less leisure time than residents in the other cities. Even if it were true, the time constraint could, at best, account for the city differences in the scope of cultural and literary knowledge, but it could hardly explain away the city differences in cultural and literary taste. We may also attribute the observed peculiarities of Shanghai to the differentiated availability of cultural repertoires across the cities. Shanghai people might have been busy in taking part in other forms of leisure activities so that they read fewer types of books and enjoy less from reading literary works. When we asked our respondents how many movies they had seen in the past year, how many sports events, city tours, exhibitions, concerts and plays they had attended, Shanghai respondents as a group indeed scored higher 19

Book Reading in Urban China

than the four city average in three of the five areas listed in Table 8. However, with the exception of art exhibits, they scored lower than Shenzhen respondents who consistently read more books and knew more about literature. Perhaps there are two types of culture: displayable and non-displayable. It is possible that Shanghai people appear to be high culture along the displayable dimension, but performs poorly in non-displayable areas such as book reading. But, again, this explanation cannot give an explanation for the differences in literary taste. Finally, we may hypothesize that Shanghai people are less involved in reading because they live in a more atomized and commercial culture. We are not sure we want to go that far, but all the pieces do seem to lead in that direction. Although we cannot come to a definitive explanation, the data clearly demonstrate that, regardless of variation by class, education, gender and age, there remains significant cultural differentiation along city lines. Conceivably, such regional differences represent what scholars call “subcultures.” Thus what the reading habits of our respondents reveal is that even as members of China’s managerial, professional, and entrepreneurial elites becomes increasingly engaged with global markets and less controlled by “homogenizing” state policies, they may also become as differentiated by the values and tastes of their regional location as by their class positions. In sum, if inequality is a multi-dimensional phenomenon, then in studying social differentiation, it is as important to analyze the distribution of such non-monetary assets as cultural capital as to examine income and wealth distribution. However, to date the English language literature on social stratification and regional disparity in China contains almost no research on the cultural dimension. We hope that our findings point to a new avenue of inquiry in the empirical study of inequality.


Book Reading in Urban China


Aschaffenburg, Karen E. 1995. "On the Distribution of Cultural Capital: Social Location and Cultural Participation." Ph.D. dissertation, Stanford University. Belloni, Maria Carmen. 1996. “Leisure and Her Own Time: Italian Woman’s Long March.” Pp. 89-109 in Women, Leisure and the Family in Contemporary Society: A Multinational Perspective, edited by N. Samuel, Wallingford: CAB International. Bennett, Tony, Michael Emmison, and John Frow. 1999. Accounting for Tastes: Australian Everyday Cultures. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bihagen, Erik, and Tally Katz-Gerro. 2000. “Culture Consumption in Sweden: The Stability of Gender Differences.” Poetics 27: 327-349. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1977. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. -----. 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique on the Judgment of Tastes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. -----. 1985. "The Market of Symbolic Goods." Poetics 14: 13-44. ------1990. Photography: A Middlebrow Art. Reprint, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Breen, Richard and David B. Rottman. 1995. Class Stratification: A Comparative Perspective. Hertfordshire: Harvester Wheatsheaf. Bryson, Bethany. 1996. "'Anything but Heavy Metal': Symbolic Exclusion and Musical Dislikes." American Sociological Review 61:884-99. Collins, Randall. 1992. "Women and the Production of Status Culture." Pp. 213-31 in Cultivating Differences: Symbolic Boundaries and the Making of Inequality, edited by M. Lamont and M. Fournier. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Davis, Deborah S. 2000. “Introduction: A Revolution in Consumption.” Pp. 1-22 in The Consumer Revolution in Urban China, edited by Deborah S. Davis. Berkeley: University of California Pree. Davis, Fred. 1992. Fashion, Culture, and Identity. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. DiMaggio, Paul. 1982. "Cultural Capital and School Success: The Impact of Status Culture Participation on the Grades of U.S. High School Students." American Sociological Review 47:189-210. 21

Book Reading in Urban China

-----. 1987. "Classification in Art." American Sociological Review 52: 440-55. -----. 1991. "Social Structure, Institutions and Cultural Goods: The Case of The United States." Pp. 133-55 in Social Theory for a Changing Society, edited by P. Bourdieu and J. Coleman. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. -----. 1994. "Social Stratification, Life-Style, and Social Cognition." Pp. 458-65 in Social Stratification, edited by D. Grusky. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. DiMaggio, Paul, John Evans, and Bethany Bryson. 1996. "Have Americans' Social Attitudes Become More Polarized?" American Journal of Sociology 102: 690755. DiMaggio, Paul and John Mohr. 1985. "Cultural Capital, Educational Attainment, and Marital Selection." American Journal of Sociology 90: 1231-61. DiMaggio, Paul and Francie Ostrower. 1990. "Participation in the Arts by Black and White Americans." Social Forces 683: 753-78. DiMaggio, Paul and Richard Peterson. 1975. "From Region to Class, the Changing Locus of Country Music: A Test of the Massification Hypothesis." Social Forces. 53: 497-506. DiMaggio, Paul and Michael Useem. 1978. "Social Class and Arts Consumption: The Origins and Consequences of Class Differences in Exposure to the Arts in America." Theory and Society 5:141-61. Erickson, Bonnie H. 1991. "What is Good Taste Good For?" Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology 28:255-78. -----. 1996. "Culture, Class, and Connections." American Journal of Sociology 102: 217-51. Gans, Herbert J. 1974. Popular Culture and High Culture. New York: Basic Books. Ganzeboom, Harry B.G. and Gerbert Kraaykamp. 1992. "Lifestyle Differentiation in Five Countries." In Lifestyle and Social Stratification in Comparative Perspective, edited by M. Evans, H.B.G. Ganzeboom, and N.-D. De Graaf. Unpublished manuscript. Gastil, R.D. 1975. Cultural Regions of the United States. Seattle: University of Washington Press Giddens, Anthony. 1973. The Class Structure of the Advanced Societies. London: Hutchinson. Green, Eileen, Sandra Hebron, and Diana Woodward. 1990. Women's Leisure, What Leisure? London: Macmillan. 22

Book Reading in Urban China

Hall, John. 1992. "The Capital(s) of Culture: A Nonholistic Approach to Status Situations, Class, Gender, and Ethnicity." Pp. 257-85 in Cultivating Differences: Symbolic Boundaries and the Making of Inequality, edited by M. Lamont and M. Fournier. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Halle, David. 1993. Inside Culture: Art and Class in the American Home. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Hebdige, Dick. 1979. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. New York: Methuen. Kang Xiaoguang, Wu Yulun, Liu Dehuan, & Sun Hui. 1998. Zhongguoren dushu toushi: 1978-1998 dazhong dushu shenghui bianqian diaocha [A Study of Reading in China: Changing Patterns of Reading Habits between 1978 and 1998]. Nanning: Guangxi Education Press. Katz-Gerro, Tally. 1999. “Cultural Consumption and Social Stratification: Leisure Activities, Musical, and Social Location.” Sociological Perspectives 42,4:627646. Katz-Gerro, Tally, and Yossi Shavit. 1998. “The Stratification of Leisure and Taste: Classes and Lifestyles in Israel.” European Sociological Review 14,4:369-386. Kraaykamp, Gerbert and Katinka Dijkstrab. 1999. “Preferences in Leisure Time Book Reading: A Study on the Social Differentiation in Kook Reading for the Netherlands.” Poetics, Vol. 26: 203-34. Kraaykamp, Gerbert and Paul Nieuwbeerta. 2000. “Parental Background and Lifestyle Differentiation in Eastern Europe: Social, Political, and Cultural Intergenerational Transmission in Five Former Socialist Societies.” Social Science Research 29: 92-122. Lamont, Michele. 1992. Money, Morals, and Manners: The Culture of the French and the American Upper-Middle Class. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Lamont, Michele and Marcel Fournier, eds. 1992. Cultivating Differences: Symbolic Boundaries and the Making of Inequality. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Lamont, Michele and Annette Lareau. 1988. "Cultural Capital: Allusions, Gaps and Glissandos in Recent Theoretical Developments." Sociological Theory 6:15368. Lamont, Michele, John Schmalzbauer, Maureen Waller, and Daniel Weber. 1996. “Cultural and Moral Boundaries in the United States: Structural Position, Geographic Location, and Lifestyle Explanations.” Poetics 24: 31-56. 23

Book Reading in Urban China

Levine, Lawrence W. 1988. Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Marsden, Peter V. and John Shelton Reed. 1983. “Cultural Choice Among Southerners.” American Behavioral Scientist 26: 479-92. Marsden, Peter V. and John Shelton Reed, Michael D. Kennedy, and Kandi M. Stinson. 1982. “American Regional Cultures and Differences in Leisure Time Activities.” Social Forces 60: 1023-1049. Marsden, Peter V. and Joseph F. Swingle. 1994. "Conceptualizing and Measuring Culture in Surveys: Values, Strategies, and Symbols." Poetics 22:269-89. Milner, Andrew. 1999. “Class and Cultural Production: The Intelligentsia as a Social Class.” Paper presented to the 1999 Cultural Studies Association of Australia Conference, University of Western Sydney, Paramatta, 3--5 December 1999. Netz, Yael. 1996. “Time Allocation and Leisure Preferences of Women in Israel.” Pp. 219-233 in Women, Leisure and the Family in Contemporary Society: A Multinational Perspective, edited by N. Samuel, Wallingford: CAB International. Peterson, Richard A. 1992. "Understanding Audience Segmentation: From Elite and Mass to Omnivore and Univore." Poetics 21:243-58. Peterson, Richard A. and Roger M. Kern. 1996. "Changing Highbrow Taste: From Snob to Omnivore." American Sociological Review 61: 900-907. Peterson, Richard A. and Albert Simkus. 1992. "How Musical Tastes Mark Occupational Status Groups." Pp. 152-86 in Cultivating Differences: Symbolic Boundaries and the Making of Inequality, edited by M. Lamont and M. Fournier. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Rojek, Chris. 1985. Capitalism and Leisure Theory. London: Tavistock. Rubin, Joan Shelley. 1992. The Making of Middlebrow Culture. Chapel Hill. NC: University of North Carolina Press. Samuel, Nicole. (ed.). 1996. Women, Leisure and the Family in Contemporary Society: A Multinational Perspective. Wallingford: CAB International. Scott, John. 1996. Stratification and Power: Structures of Class, Status, and Command. London: Polity Press. Shaw, Susan M. 1994. “Gender, Leisure, and Constraints. Towards a Framework for the Analysis of Women’s Leisure.” Journal of Leisure Research 26,1:8-22.


Book Reading in Urban China

Sobel, Michael. 1983. "Lifestyle Differentiation and Stratification in Contemporary U.S. Society." Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 2:115-44. Stokmans, Mia J. W. 1999. “Reading Attitude and Its Effect on Leisure Time Reading.” Poetics 26: 245-261. Tepper, Steven J. 2000. “Fiction Reading in America: Explaining the Gender Gap.” Poetics 27: 255-275. Ultee, Wout C., R. Batenburg, and Harry B.G. Ganzeboom. 1992. "Cultural Inequalities in Cross-National Perspective." Paper presented at the meeting of the ISA Research Committee on Social Stratification, Trento, Italy, May 14-16. Van Rees, Kees, Jeroen Vermunt, and Marc Verboord. 1999. “Cultural Classification under Discussion: Latent Class Analysis of Highbrow and Lowbrow Reading.” Poetics 26: 349-365. Veblen, Thorstein. [1899] 1953. The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions. New York: Mentor. Weber, Max. [1922] 1978. Economy and Society. Translated by G. Roth and C. Wittich. Berkeley: University of California Press. Wilson, John. 1980. "Sociology of Leisure." Annual Review of Sociology 6: 21-40. Wright, Erik O. 1985. Classes. London: Verso. Zolberg, Vera. 1990. Constructing Sociology of the Arts. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.


Book Reading in Urban China

Table 1: Cultural Facilities in the Four Cities
Population (million) 9.19 13.34 5.04 7.68 Art Performance Troupes 15 25 5 16 Art Performance Places 32 36 6 13 Cultural Centers 18 46 7 19 Public Libraries 31 32 10 17

Tianjin Shanghai Shenzhen Wuhan

Museums 15 23 16 16

Source: Department of Finance, Ministry of Culture, Zhongguo wenhua wenwu tongji nianjian, 2003 [China Statistical Yearbook on Culture and Cultural Relic, 2003], Beijing: Beijing Library Press, 2004.


Book Reading in Urban China

Table 2 How often do you read the following kinds of books? (Mean Score)
Book Genre Masterpieces in Chinese & Foreign Literature (zhongwai wenxue mingzhu) Reportage (jishi wenxue) Biography (renwu zhuanji) Romance Novels (yanqing xiaoshuo) Martial Arts (wuxia xiaoshuo) Detective Story (zhengtan xiaoshuo) Science Fiction (kehuan xiaoshuo) Philosophy (zhexue/xueshu zhuzuo) Religious (zongjiao duwu) History/Geography (lishi/dili) Sports and Games (tiyu/youxi) Management (jingying guanli) Everyday Life (shiyong shenghuo zhishi) Professional (zhuanye jishu jineng) Educational Materials (jiaocai/fudaoshu) Poetry & Prose (shige/shanwen) Self Cultivation(rensheng xiuyang) Current Events (shishi zhengzhi) On the Reforms (youguan gaige de shu) Foreign Relations (zhongwai guanxi de shu) Stocks/Bonds (youguan gupiao de shu) Children’s Education (youguan zinu jiaoyu de shu) 1.30 1.42 1.12 .74 .58 .46 .44 1.42 1.11 .71 .97 .50 .66 .75 .64 .87 1.32 .57 .80 .70 .31 .76 .52 .80 .66 Overall Shanghai 1.07 1.01 1.23 1.24 .93 1.01 Tianjin 1.02 1.23 1.12 Wuhan Shenzhen 1.18 1.11 1.40 1.45 1.50 1.51

.77 .61

.77 .59

.76 .74

1.00 .76

.53 .32

.81 .48

.87 .67

.88 .69

.46 .19

.71 .33

.85 .34

.90 .45

.38 .41

.85 .75 .79 1.32

.89 .68 1.10 1.63

.99 .81 1.21 1.76

1.22 .80

1.33 1.10 .64 1.02

1.63 1.37 .85 1.08

1.59 1.22 .98 1.25

.97 .67

1.43 1.10 .66 .33

1.76 1.50 1.03 .63

1.68 1.31 .93 1.26






Book Reading in Urban China

Table 3: Did you enjoy reading the following authors? (Mean Score)
Over all 2.59 2.79 2.04 1.73 1.43 1.48 1.80 1.38 1.10 2.28 1.68 2.49 2.55 1.77 1.61 2.99 2.66 1.49 2.28 1.89 2.08 2.10 2.54 1.60 2.20 1.52 Shan ghai 2.32 2.29 1.78 1.55 1.74 1.32 1.63 1.55 1.09 2.51 1.47 2.46 2.26 2.02 1.69 2.64 2.69 1.31 2.48 1.93 Tian jin 2.85 3.05 2.13 1.56 1.07 1.22 1.83 1.02 .79 1.98 2.26 2.78 2.87 1.72 1.42 3.24 2.91 1.57 2.45 2.16 Wuh an 2.78 3.08 2.30 1.97 1.50 1.81 2.04 1.49 1.26 2.30 1.43 2.30 2.70 1.82 1.81 3.31 2.36 1.46 Shen zhen 2.20 2.71 1.89 1.99 1.43 1.71 1.61 1.55 1.47 2.41 1.36 2.35 2.20 1.29 1.47 2.59

Ba Jin Lu Xun Yang Mo Qian Zhongshu Wang Anyi Jia Pingwa Wang Shuo Su Tong Wang Xiaobo Jin Yong Feng Jicai Qiong Yao Maxim Gorky Guy de Maupassant Mark Twain Cao Xueqin Su Dongpo Liang Xiaosheng San Mao Zhang Ailing


Book Reading in Urban China

Table 4: Rotated Factor Loadings for Book Genres
Highbrow 0.661 0.698 0.617 -0.048 -0.078 0.151 0.344 0.617 0.718 0.596 0.305 0.272 0.190 0.187 0.113 0.501 0.606 0.577 0.529 0.512 -0.227 0.057 8.870 40.318 Fiction 0.113 0.013 0.030 0.596 0.840 0.771 0.526 -0.025 0.149 0.085 0.251 -0.027 0.016 -0.141 0.044 0.010 0.000 -0.053 -0.046 0.034 0.144 0.176 1.746 48.255 Managementrelated -0.204 -0.107 -0.009 -0.339 0.108 0.115 0.140 0.138 -0.064 0.181 0.430 0.568 0.219 0.280 0.045 -0.060 -0.016 0.346 0.440 0.415 0.693 0.122 1.251 53.941 Familyrelated 0.213 0.231 0.242 0.426 -0.105 0.028 -0.008 0.086 -0.307 0.039 -0.030 0.127 0.527 0.520 0.710 0.387 0.347 0.163 0.092 0.110 0.131 0.633 1.052 58.721

Masterpieces in Chinese & Foreign Literature Reportage Biography Romance Martial Arts Fiction Detective Story Science Fiction Philosophy Religious History/Geography Sports and Games Management Everyday Life Professional Skills Educational Materials Poetry Self Cultivation Current Events On the Reforms Foreign Relations Stocks/Bonds Children's Education Eigenvalue Cumulative % Explained Variance


Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis


Rotation Method: Oblimin with Kaiser Normalization


Book Reading in Urban China

Table 5: Rotated Factor Loadings for Literary Authors
Contemporary Novels 0.094 -0.019 0.351 0.547 0.618 0.550 0.557 0.867 0.855 -0.001 0.300 -0.041 -0.113 0.091 0.121 -0.012 -0.005 0.600 0.163 0.359 6.841 34.203 Red Classics 0.810 0.755 0.588 0.208 0.054 0.012 0.208 -0.046 -0.064 -0.063 0.225 0.236 0.697 0.238 0.085 0.591 0.399 0.017 0.028 -0.138 1.942 43.911 Romance 0.022 0.068 -0.158 -0.132 -0.009 -0.056 -0.135 0.099 0.150 0.145 -0.049 0.710 0.022 -0.205 -0.083 0.264 0.186 -0.077 0.616 0.389 1.232 50.072 Pink Classics 0.158 0.057 -0.019 -0.157 -0.098 -0.309 -0.174 0.114 0.224 -0.570 -0.244 0.142 -0.203 -0.638 -0.723 -0.144 -0.448 -0.229 -0.287 -0.381 1.056 55.352

Ba Jin Lu Xun Yang Mo Qian Zhongshu Wang Anyi Jia Pingwa Wang Shuo Su Tong Wang Xiaobo Jin Yong Feng Jicai Qiong Yao Maxim Gorky Guy de Maupassant Mark Twain Cao Xueqin Su Dongpo Liang Xiaosheng San Mao Zhang Ailing Eigenvalue Cumulative % Explained Variance


Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis


Rotation Method: Oblimin with Kaiser Normalization


Book Reading in Urban China

Table 6: Effects of Predictors on Book Genre Preference (Standardized Coefficients--Beta)
Dependent Variables And Models Predictor Variables Personal characteristics Gender (Women = 0) Education Age City dummy (Wuhan = 0) Shanghai Tianjin Shenzhen Class (Service worker = 0) Party/government official Professional Production worker Private business owner Self-employed Administrative staff Enterprise manager Adjusted R square Number of cases Number of Book Genres Read 0.069 0.309 -0.126 -0.341 -0.092 0.030 0.128 0.196 0.030 0.045 -0.037 0.149 0.125 0.316 645 ** *** *** *** ** Highbrow Books FamilyRelated Books -0.122 0.335 -0.169 -0.282 -0.078 0.009 0.028 0.228 0.086 0.027 0.058 0.151 0.048 0.254 647 *** *** *** *** * Management Related Books 0.261 0.062 -0.017 -0.297 -0.140 0.072 0.068 0.094 0.015 0.036 -0.013 0.065 0.187 0.208 647 *** Popular Fictions

0.060 0.308 -0.011 -0.265 -0.045 -0.012 0.160 0.130 -0.029 0.025 -0.091 0.098 0.097 0.286 647

* ***

0.051 -0.042 -0.241 -0.074 -0.001 0.044 0.045 0.061 0.046 0.043 -0.019 0.099 0.008 0.054 647



*** *** *

*** ***

*** **

*** *

*** ***

** ** **





Book Reading in Urban China

Table 7: Effects of Predictors on Literary Author Preferences (Standardized Coefficients)
Dependent Variables And Models Predictor Variables Personal characteristics Gender (Women = 0) Education Age City dummy (Wuhan = 0) Shanghai Tianjin Shenzhen Class (Service worker = 0) Party/government official Professional Production worker Private business owner Self-employed Administrative staff Enterprise manager Adjusted R square Number of cases Number of Literary Authors Read 0.010 0.386 -0.015 -0.160 -0.057 -0.095 0.126 0.121 -0.014 0.001 -0.052 0.051 0.094 0.266 660 Contemporary Novels Red Classics Romance Pink Classics


-0.022 0.328 -0.056 -0.076 -0.112 -0.004 0.118 0.112 -0.029 -0.026 -0.051 0.052 0.137 0.221 641


0.028 0.298 0.094 -0.252 0.053 -0.171 0.071 0.052 -0.028 -0.028 -0.041 0.002 0.000 0.212 641

*** ** *** ***

-0.118 0.009 -0.078 -0.032 -0.004 0.050 -0.015 0.076 0.011 0.114 0.009 0.076 0.010 0.027 641

*** *

0.064 0.263 -0.051 -0.038 -0.090 -0.078 0.120 0.101 0.020 0.032 -0.026 0.038 0.077 0.135 641

* ***

*** ** *** **

* **

** * ** *

** *




Table 8: How many times have you gone to the following events in the last 12 months? (Mean Score)
Over all Movies Sports Events City Tours Concerts and Plays Art Exhibits 1.11 .46 1.84 .36 .45 Shan ghai 1.31 .37 1.33 .38 .65 Tian jin .61 .35 1.92 .31 .33 an 1.15 .48 1.99 .34 .41 Wuh Shen zhen 1.67 .83 2.43 .48 .41


Book Reading in Urban China


Book Reading in Urban China


The authors wish to thank Hui Niu for her assistance in preparing data files and Yu Lee

for his extensive help with all phases of data management and statistical analysis. An earlier version of this research note was presented at a conference at University of Hong Kong, “Repositioning Hong Kong and Shanghai in Modern Chinese History”. Financial support for both data collection and analysis was provided by a grant from the United States-China Cooperative Research Program of the Henry Luce Foundation.

Due to space limit, in this study, no effort is made to show whether variations in

reading habits have any of the consequences in China that Bourdieu or Peterson argue they should have in any society.

In Boudieu’s view, for instance, compared to other alternatives, book reading can serve

as a good indicator of cultural capital (1984: 116 and 119).

Although book reading is an important part of social life, little empirical research on

social differences in this respect has been done in the field of China study. An exception is Kang et al. 1998.

We make no effort to investigate the ultimate origins of regional subcultures, a question Similarly, Tianjin residents love Feng Jicai’s novels much more than their counterparts

that goes beyond the scope of this article.

elsewhere because Feng is from the city.

When using oblique rotation to test whether the underlying factor structures of both sets

of variables are orthogonal, we find that, in both instances, some factor correlations are indeed larger than 0.32. That is factor analyses are done with Oblimin rotation.


Shared By: