Xi Jinping’s Civil Sobriety: Cultural Power in the New Era

Mike Gow

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Since his ascent to power at the 18th Party Congress in 2012, Xi Jinping has significantly shifted the Party’s strategic focus to emphasize superstructural reform. This shift serves to distinguish Xi’s New Era from the Deng-Jiang-Hu post-reform era, which concerned itself primarily with perpetuating a legitimacy predicated on economic opportunity and double-digit growth. Cultural power is now being pursued through a highly choreographed orchestration of both coercive and consensus-building initiatives mediated through the political state apparatus, civil society institutions, and the private sector. The result is a systematic and ongoing monopolization of cultural power, effectively terraforming a superstructural landscape where all institutions in the political, civil, and commercial realms are not only captured and subjugated but effectively mobilized under the aegis of Xi’s umbrella project of the China Dream (中国梦).

Unraveling the array of techniques, tactics, and strategies is a challenging proposition for both those on the ground and for external observers. Here we will examine several tenets of the Xi administration’s efforts to both harness and wield cultural power. We begin with a brief discussion of base/superstructure distinction in relation to Xi’s New Era. Discussion then moves to provide an overview of the Party’s cultural objectives outlined at the 18th and 19th Party Congresses before examining three key aspects of the Party’s cultural landscaping: ideas, institutions, and civic spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDangguan: Party Watch
Subtitle of host publicationAnnual Report 2019
PublisherCenter for Advanced China Research
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2019


  • China
  • Civil Society
  • Culture
  • state building
  • superstructure


Dive into the research topics of 'Xi Jinping’s Civil Sobriety: Cultural Power in the New Era'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this