Factions in a Bureaucratic Setting: The Origins of Cultural Revolution Conflict in Nanjing

Mass factions in China during the first two years of the Cultural Revolution have long been understood as interest groups: collections of individuals who shared interests due to common occupations, statuses, or party affiliations. An alternative view, developed primarily with evidence about the distinctive case of Beijing students, emphasizes not the characteristics of participants but histories of political encounters in collapsing bureaucratic hierarchies. This article pursues the issue in settings outside China's capital, tracing the development of factions in two schools and one factory that played major roles in the politics of Nanjing. Individuals from the same backgrounds were commonly pitted against one another, and their political stances were strategic responses to context-specific histories of conflict rather than expressions of some underlying interest of members in either preserving or challenging existing arrangements