Four Modernizations Era

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The goal of the "Four Modernizations" was to strengthen the sectors of agriculture, industry, technology and defense.  Class struggle was no longer the central focus as it had been under Mao.  The change in political climate was reflected in the propaganda posters of the 70s and 80s, which now promoted the creation of a society of civilized and productive citizens all working toward the welfare of the country and contributing to the modernization effort. Although there were still periodic campaigns against "bourgeois liberalization" or "spiritual pollution," overall the government relaxed its hold over cultural affairs.

Poster: "Struggle to Realize  the Four Modernizations"


An important aspect of modernization was education.  Educational institutions had been dismantled during the Cultural Revolution, and now it was necessary to rebuild them.  Propaganda posters that encouraged study were frequently targeted at urban youth.


What do you notice in the background in the poster to the left?  What do you think the young girl is imagining? 

Poster titled "The Future 

Summons"   source

Another major change in the subject matter of propaganda from the 70s and 80s was the return of the intellectuals, a group that had frequently been accused of being "bourgeois" under Mao.  Workers, peasants, and soldiers, while still portrayed, were no longer the only role models.  Intellectuals had been elevated to the status of "mental workers" and were now shown as responsible and productive members of society.   

In the billboard below, the scientific development of the oil industry is promoted.

How does the artist convey the notion of science? 

Billboard from Gansu province                                            source

Although the government loosened its control over the people, it could still exert considerable coercive force when deemed necessary.  Although Mao did not believe that it was necessary to control the Chinese population, since his death the government has worked hard to promote the one-child policy.


What attitude is this poster trying to encourage? 


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