Making up China's ‘Black Population’

Susan Greenhalgh

in Categories and Contexts

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199270576
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191600883 | DOI:

Series: International Studies in Demography

Making up China's ‘Black Population’

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State‐created, bureaucratically elaborated social categories are so normalized a feature of modern life that we usually ignore them—at our peril. Shows how the bureaucratic categories of state programmes often work to ‘make up’ persons, in Ian Hacking's felicitous phrase, who then come to fit their categories. Focusing on China, home to the world's largest population, it shows how, through the deployment of its central category, the planned/unplanned birth, China's programme of state birth planning, designed to modernize the populace, inadvertently created a huge ‘black population’ of persons deprived of the benefits of citizenship and modern life. The China material shows how state categorizing practices quietly participate in the construction of social reality by producing new forms of personhood, new kinds of politics, and new lines of social and political exclusion.

Keywords: bureaucracy; China; modernity; personhood; population discourse; social categories; socialist thought; state programmes

Chapter.  12388 words. 

Subjects: History of Economic Thought

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