Zhang Jishun, East China Normal University
Abstract: The People’s Republic of China’s 1953-54 general elections for local People’s Congresses was an important moment for the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) articulation of the slogan “masters of the country [guojia zhurenweng 国家主人翁]” as a powerful discursive structure. The language and imagery associated with this ideological construct was used to inspire loyalty toward the party and the nation at the grassroots level in cities, as well as to expand and solidify the new regime’s political base in urban society. This paper investigates the historical origins and significance of “masters of the country” rhetoric for grassroots society in Shanghai and compares the operation of this concept in Shanghai with examples drawn from the elections in Beijing. At the heart of this comparison is the tension between this discursive structure as a slogan designed to change the affective or emotional state of voters and the actuality of how power was distributed in the early years of the People’s Republic.
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