Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2017

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 08/31/2019

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Political Science

First Advisor

Tang, Wenfang

Second Advisor

Solt, Frederick

First Committee Member

Tang, Wenfang

Second Committee Member

Solt, Frederick

Third Committee Member

Reisinger, William

Fourth Committee Member

Pacheco, Julianna

Fifth Committee Member

Lü, Xiaobo


This study examines Chinese citizens’ awareness, perceptions of economic inequality, preferences for redistribution, as well as how the Chinese government portrays inequality and how citizens respond to propaganda. I theorize that the low-, middle- and high-income classes will observe different realities of inequality, have different opinions of inequality, and that lead to different reactions to propaganda. The low-income class is expected to be unaware of inequality and their attitudes toward inequality should be affected by the government rhetoric because of their low levels of education and exposure to inequality. The educated and informed middle class should observe the reality and criticize inequality. The high-income class should understand the reality of inequality but will not criticize inequality as they enjoy their wealth and success. Government propaganda will persuade the disadvantaged but not the middle class, and will elicit support for redistribution from the wealthy at least on the surface. I test my theory by examining two national public opinion surveys on inequality and distributive justice, also by collecting original data through a survey experiment in China. Analyses of the national surveys and the experimental data show that the low-income Chinese are not well-aware of inequality and believe government rhetoric. The middle class is critical of inequality and resistant to propaganda. The rich are ambiguous toward inequality: they do not perceive inequality negatively, but are willing to show compliance with the government’s populist pledges of fighting against inequality. This study concludes that the middle class is the critical group in China. Propaganda persuades the low-income class but backfires among the middle class.


xi, 181 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 170-176).


Copyright © 2017 Shuai Jin