As part of a society in which the state designates and defines social categories, research (and the researchers) in post-1949 China were defined by their function, that is to say they were specifically to research policy options in order to validate policy directive as articulated by the leadership. But by the 1980s the statist construction of researchers broke down as the young reformers, drawing on their experience of life in the PRC began to come together to challenge the existing arrangements for research and discussion. This chapter begins with an overview of the state’s effort to organize policy-relevant research to promote reform and covers the young reformers’ response to that effort in their development of nonstate organized associations. I then cover the defining event that launched the young reformers on their attempt to develop a professional identity within an ambiguous but politicized institutional environment for research and policy advocacy. The review of these early years of organizing highlights measures the young reformers took to circumvent institutional impediments to the articulation of new ideas and to promoting a different framework for pursuing research. It shows how discussions and research were mobilized and “guided” in state-initiated groups as opposed to those formed organically around shared interests, ideas, and a commitment to open discussion. Thus, this review also recounts the beginnings of a professional identity.