Historian - Professor - Digital Scholar

“The socialist transformation of funeral companies in Shanghai (1949–57)”

The takeover of the city by the People’s Liberation Army in May 1949 marked thebeginning of a process of transformation of all commercial and industrial companiesin Shanghai. The funeral business companies represented a small sector, yet one thathad great significance in everyday life. The ccp sought to control the private funeralcompanies almost as soon as it took over the city. The new authorities envisioned aradical transformation of the whole funeral business. While they exhibited remarkableefficiency in conducting the process of progressive elimination of many companies andplacing the whole funeral business under strict guidance, the ‘socialist transformation’resulted in a system riddled with inefficiency, mismanagement and mistrust. The CCPbuilt on the experience it had acquired previously, but with Shanghai it also neededto adapt to the challenge of managing a large and complex metropolis. I argue that theCCP successfully enlisted the trade associations to implement its policy through meansof ideological dominance, persuasion techniques, threat and sheer coercion. The shortbut strong protest of the former managers of companies during the Hundred FlowersMovement made visible the powerful political machine that d

European Journal of East Asian Studies, vol. 13, no. 2, 2014, 186-211