Abstract

Abstract:

This article explores the technological dimension of Shanghai’s socialist transformation. It does so through a case study of the bicycle industry, tracing the industry’s standardization and consolidation from the early 1950s to the 1960s. During this time, hundreds of independent bicycle factories merged into one state-owned manufacturing enterprise renowned for its celebrated bicycle brand: the Phoenix. By examining the archives of both the preconsolidation bicycle trade association and the postconsolidation state-owned factory, this study uncovers the critical role played by the social group labeled “middle and petty capitalists,” many of whom were business owners with valuable technical know-how. Their integration into the new sociotechnological system eliminated the entrepreneur as an identity even as it valorized the role of “technician.” Thus the party-state successfully assimilated both private assets and industrial expertise into the new socialist production regime.

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