In contemporary China, concerns about the suzhi, or “quality,” of individuals, groups, and populations pervade the social imagination and inform a wide spectrum of discourses and debates. Suzhi is of critical importance to contemporary China's booming, globally oriented market economy, to new, “postsocialist” forms of state governance and social control, and to contemporary processes of citizenship. This essay first provides some background discussion of the historical development and contemporary significance of suzhi discourse in China and briefly reviews existing literature relating to it. It then introduces each of the subsequent essays in this special issue on suzhi and explains the connections between them.

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