China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
During the early PRC years, the CCP introduced the Soviet model into sports realm and intended to incorporate the mass into centralized physical activities. Likewise, the CCP did not simply consider sports as “playing ball games and holding sports meetings”，but as “an important political task”. This article will focus on how this task interacted with a certain group of mass: the workers. Based on the study on Shanghai workers during the early 1950s, the article aims to concentrate on the vital role of worker sport in the Party’s making of a standardized working class, which was ignored by many previous scholarships. Specifically, first, developing worker sports helped establish the workers’ identity as “masters of the country”, and eliminate the previous vagueness and mobility in their status. Second, for the Party, sports served as a means to organize, regulate and educate workers, especially in their leisure time. Incorporating them into state-organized sports was an effective way to constrain their mobility and standardize their leisure time.
However, when the state endeavor reached the grass-root level, there were limitations. First, sports activities lacked enough support from local authorities. Furthermore, in some cases, how they promoted collided with central intentions, which caused an identity crisis among workers instead. Second, for the workers, they also were inactive to state mobilization. Moreover, even if they joined sports, not all of their motivations fit into state design. Anyway, mobility in the working class still remained.