From Mao to Market

China Reconfigured

February 2011 9781849040846 288pp
Temporarily out of stock
February 2011 9781849040839 288pp


Over the past thirty years, China has been entering inexorably onto the world stage, and into the world’s imagination. From now on, there will be a ‘China dimension’ to almost everything we do. From Mao to Market is intended for those who wish to engage with China, and as a supporting text for undergraduates who seek a nuanced overview of modern China, grounded in an appreciation of the country’s history. It draws both on the author’s long academic career researching and teaching about the country, and substantial practical experience of involvement with China going back to a first visit in 1972 during the Cultural Revolution, and a first period of work there, as a sub-editor at Xinhua News Agency in Beijing in the late 1970s. The first third of the book is a narrative summary of China’s history, and political and social development, focusing especially on the modern period up to the present day. In the remaining two-thirds the author examines in some detail areas of particular interest, and seeks to explain why China has developed as it has, emphasizing the role played by politics and culture in conditioning all aspects of Chinese life. These chapters look at the Confucian heritage, orthodoxy ideology and law, technology policy, political command structures, enterprise management, public policies and private goals, and the prospects for democracy. The issues which China faces in its transition ‘From Mao to Market’ have a long pedigree. This book begins to explain their complexity.


‘… a concise overview of current Chinese political history, which examines how and why the country has modernized as it has. … Students of (and newcomers to) Chinese political studies will find this work a very useful reference, and more experienced China scholars will also find much to appreciate here.’ — International Affairs

‘Anyone looking to read a concise and sympathetic introduction to contemporary China should read Robin Porter’s new book. With a light touch, he traces China’s transformation from Confucianism to Marxism and now to market economics, its response to western political and scientific ideas, and its uncertain future.’ — Jasper Becker, author of Hungry Ghosts and The Chinese

‘Here, at last, is a book that can be confidently recommended to anyone wishing to understand the extraordinary recent transformation that has taken place in China. Refreshingly free of cant, it offers an authoritative, objective, and judicious account of how and why this transformation has come about, relating the country’s recent developments to its historical past (including its philosophical and cultural traditions). Robin Porter wears his scholarship lightly, and his narrative is both elegantly written and eminently accessible. For the general reader, this is without doubt the best guide to China that has yet been written. But its thoughtful insights will surely be invaluable to students and scholars alike.’ — Robert Ash, Professor of Economics with reference to China and Taiwan, SOAS, University of London

From Mao to Market is a formidable guide to China’s recent past and present. With admirable clarity and balance, Robin Porter sets out the chronology, at the same time exploring development theory, the effect of Confucianism and the traditional family and the shock of the nineteenth century western intrusion on China. His broad cultural coverage supports an informative understanding of today’s China.’ — Frances Wood, curator of Chinese collections at the British Library and author of The First Emperor

‘A generally balanced and thoughtful account of China’s development since the late 1970s.’ — Asian Affairs



Robin Porter has taught about China at universities in Canada, Australia and the UK, has served as an adviser to industry, and was the British Government's first Science Counsellor in Beijing. A Chinese speaker, Porter is Visiting Professor at the Centre for East Asian Studies, Bristol University.

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