The discursive construction of the social stratification order in reforming China

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This chapter examines the discursive reconfiguration of the social stratification order in reforming China. Applying the two notions of metadiscourse and entextualization from the natural history of discourse (NHD) perspective (Silverstein & Urban 1996), I argue that the missing link between the discursive and the social is forged through the metadiscourses (Urban 1996) originated by the top leaders of the Communist Party of China, and that their ongoing entextualizations play a crucial role in establishing the stratificational status quo. They set the tone for dismantling the pre-reform hierarchical pattern and constructing an evolving system in light of the growing market economy. The analysis of their entextualizations is based on period texts (1978–2008), primarily speeches of the three party leaders Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. Combining the discursive insights of critical discourse theory and the NHD perspective, this study intends to break new ground in applying the NHD approach to analyzing the reforming Chinese state socialism where social stratification is necessarily subject to ongoing transformations.


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