Myth of the Social Volcano

Perceptions of Inequality and Distributive Injustice in Contemporary China

Is popular anger about rising inequality propelling China toward a “social volcano” of protest activity and instability that could challenge Chinese Communist Party rule? Many inside and outside of China have speculated, without evidence, that the answer is yes. In 2004, Harvard sociologist Martin King Whyte has undertaken the first systematic, nationwide survey of ordinary Chinese citizens to ask them directly how they feel about inequalities that have resulted since China’s market opening in 1978. His findings are the subject of this book. —Stanford University Press


Martin K. Whyte
Stanford University Press
February 2010

Martin King Whyte is Professor of Sociology at Harvard University. His primary research and teaching specialties are comparative sociology, sociology of the family, sociology of development, the sociological study of contemporary China, and the study of post-communist transitions. Whyte is editor of Marriage in America: A Communitarian Perspective (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000) and China’s Revolutions and Inter-Generational Relations (University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies, 2003). His current research project involves surveys on Chinese popular perceptions of inequality trends and views about distributive justice issues. Whyte has previously taught at the University of Michigan and George Washington University.