Driving toward Modernity

Driving toward Modernity

Cars and the Lives of the Middle Class in Contemporary China

Jun Zhang


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In Driving toward Modernity, Jun Zhang ethnographically explores the entanglement between the rise of the automotive regime and emergence of the middle class in South China. Focusing on the Pearl River Delta, one of the nation's wealthiest regions, Zhang shows how private cars have shaped everyday middle-class sociality, solidarity, and subjectivity, and how the automotive regime has helped make the new middle classes of the PRC. By carefully analyzing how physical and social mobility intertwines, Driving toward Modernity paints a nuanced picture of modern Chinese life, comprising the continuity and rupture as well as the structure and agency of China's great transformation.