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Projecting the Good Life at Home and Abroad: Lineages of the Chinese National Image from 1949 to the Present

Alison Hulme
Published Online: 2015-01-08 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ngs-2014-0032


Both post-1949 Maoist China and post-1978 reform China have seen a national image of “the good life” imprinted on the domestic public imagination. In both cases such images seek to mobilize the Chinese people towards a vision of a better life. In both, the idea of “industriousness” is present, but the vision of what constitutes “the good life” has changed significantly, becoming more determinedly modernist and outward-looking. With the Beijing Olympics of 2008 and the Shanghai World Expo of 2010, suddenly the vision of the good life was not only a national call to arms for industriousness, but also a vision of China projected globally, yet in a way that, domestically, served to maintain the continuity of the communist party in a fast-changing socio-political landscape. So, while the desire for “the good life” remains a national call to arms, the projected images of it may well now depict a drastically different vision of what it actually consists of. Comparison between 1950s Mao propaganda posters and those from other eras will be used in this article to explore the continuity of political rhetoric surrounding “the good life” in contemporary China.

Keywords: industriousness; masses; continuity; Narodniks; provision; nationalism; abundance; xiaokang; wealth-creation


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About the article

Published Online: 2015-01-08

Published in Print: 2014-12-01

Citation Information: New Global Studies, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 307–329, ISSN (Online) 1940-0004, ISSN (Print) 2194-6566, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ngs-2014-0032.

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