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Arien Mack Editor’s Introduction TH IS ISSUE OF SOCIAL RESEARCH IS AN O TH ER IN OUR R ECU R R IN G SERIES reflecting on important political and economic transitions in the world. The series began in 1988 with issues on the transition in East and Central Europe and the former Soviet Union that led up to and followed the collapse of communism, which was marked by the destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The most recent issue in the series was our Fall 2005 issue on the “The New South Africa,” more than 10 years after the collapse of the apartheid regime. The current issue looks at the remarkable transition now taking place in the People’s Republic of China. Like the transitions that occurred in East and Central Europe and the former Soviet Union, it too is a transition to a market economy. But unlike those transitions, it is not, nor is it meant to be, a transition to democracy—at least not yet. In addition, while the transition in South Africa was clearly a remarkable shift to democracy, it was not also a move to a market economy, since South Africa's economy was already market based. In almost eveiy case, these transitions were peaceful and occurred without a civil war or any bloodshed, but in most other ways they differ significantly from each other, which becomes clear if one looks at this series as a whole. Moreover, just as the collapse of communism was not foreseen when it occurred, so the success of a communist regime, like that in China, in transforming itself into a thriving market economy without serious political change, was also not anticipated. This unex­ pected and unprecedented situation makes the case of China all the more interesting and well worth examining, which is the purpose of social research Vol 73 : No 1 : Spring 2006 v this special issue of Social Research. It is, we think, notable that this issue on China not only looks broadly at the ongoing changes, but does so mostly from the perspective of influential Chinese scholars and intel­ lectuals rather than from that of the Western sinologists who most often are called upon to discuss the changes in China in the pages of Western journals. I am grateful to Jean-Philipe Beja, the guest editor of this issue, whose expertise and deep knowledge of China made this issue possible. Arien Mack vi social research ...


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