China’s commercial film industry can be used as a map to understand how class is interwoven into the imaginations that inform and influence social change in Chinese society. Film consumption is important in this process, particularly for young adult urbanites that are China’s primary commercial cinema patrons.

This book investigates the web between the representation of class themes in Chinese film narratives, local audience reception to these films, and the socialisation of China’s contemporary class society. Bringing together textual analyses of narratives from five commercially exhibited films: Let the Bullets Fly (Jiang: 2010), Lost on Journey (Yip: 2011), Go Lala Go! (Xu: 2011), House Mania (Sun: 2011) and The Piano in the Factory (Zheng: 2011); and the reception of 179 Chinese audiences from varying class positions, it investigates the extent to which fictional narratives inform and reflect current class identities in present-day China. Through group discussions in Beijing, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Lanzhou and Taiyuan, the author searches for audiences beyond major cities that are typically the focus of film consumption studies in China. As such, the book reveals not only how deeply and widespread the socialisation of China’s class society has become in the imaginations of Chinese audiences, but also what appears to be a preference of both audiences and filmmakers for the continuation of China’s new class society.

Revealing the extent to which cinema continues to play a key role in the socialisation of class structures in contemporary Chinese society, this book will be important for students and scholars of Chinese Studies, Film Studies, Communication Studies, as well as observers of China’s film industry.

chapter 1|21 pages

Chinese audiences and the cinema of class

chapter 2|5 pages

Class on screen and in reality

Pre-conditioning audiences

chapter 3|21 pages

Let the Bullets Fly

The socialisation of assumptions

chapter 4|23 pages

Lost on Journey

Prejudice in class relations

chapter 5|25 pages

Go Lala Go!

Secretaries, shopping and spinsterhood

chapter 6|27 pages

House Mania

Homeownership, marriageability and masculinity

chapter 7|19 pages

The Piano in a Factory

Suzhi, industrial heroes and the spectacle of poverty

chapter 8|6 pages


Class, the film and the filmmaker