“Little Brothers” in the Cultural Revolution: The Worker Rebels of Shanghai

Elizabeth J. Perry and Nara Dillon

in Chinese Femininities/Chinese Masculinities

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780520211032
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520935303 | DOI:
“Little Brothers” in the Cultural Revolution: The Worker Rebels of Shanghai

Show Summary Details


This chapter provides a clear picture of the worker rebels of Shanghai in the Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution was a period of extraordinary social turmoil. When Chairman Mao called upon the masses to bombard the headquarters, they often did so with a remarkable vengeance. However, the most notable aspect of Shanghai's worker-rebel activism was not their violence, but their pursuit of political power. The workers were content to adopt the fraternal appellation of little brother. After the January Revolution of 1967, worker rebels at the instigation of Zhang Chunqiao and Wang Hongwen augmented their political influence through a variety of programs: worker representatives, workers' Mao Zedong thought-propaganda teams, workers' theory troops, workers' new cadres, and worker ambassadors. Having operated on the fringes of orthodox society for many years, Shanghai's worker rebels seized the opportunity presented by the Cultural Revolution to forge a new brotherhood based on a common quest for political inclusion. In addition, despite the overwhelmingly male composition of their leadership ranks, the workers did permit women to take charge of male subordinates.

Keywords: worker rebels; Shanghai; Cultural Revolution; little brother; Mao

Chapter.  8064 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.