The uneven distribution of cultural capital: Book reading in urban China

Shaoguang Wang, Deborah Davis, Yanjie Bian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Drawing on interviews with 400 couples in four cities in 1998, this exploratory study focuses on variation in reading habits to integrate the concept of cultural capital into the theoretical and empirical analysis of inequality and social stratification in contemporary urban China. Overall, we find that volume and composition of cultural capital varies across social classes independent of education. Thus, to the extent that cultural capital in the form of diversified knowledge and appreciation for certain genres or specific authors is unevenly distributed across social classes, we hypothesize that the possession of cultural capital may be a valuable resource in defining and crystallizing class boundaries in this hybrid, fast-changing society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-348
Number of pages34
JournalModern China
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • Chinese literature
  • Class
  • Cultural capital
  • Inequality


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