Contemporary Chinese Newspapers’ Portrayal of the Middle Class

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Abstract

The middle class is an important social group with widespread societal impacts. Both the Chinese government and academia expect this group to face severe and complex domestic and international repercussions due to the issues caused by COVID-19. In China, scholars believe that the media largely influences the public perception of the middle class. However, few studies have analyzed how the media has constructed the middle-class image. To address this gap in the literature, this study employed content and text analyses to investigate the content, structure, and characteristics of the middle-class image constructed by the “People’s Daily” newspaper for the period 2000 to 2018. These efforts elucidated Chinese newspapers’ reasons, methods, attitudes, and purposes for constructing this image. Based on this, the study compared the similarities and differences in the depiction of the middle class within the sphere of Chinese newspaper reports and class studies, thereby clarifying the significance of analyzing the middle class from a media studies perspective.