This article examines the categories and concepts through which the Tibetan social world has been represented, prior to and during the Mao era (1949-1976). The categories typical of the pre-Communist Tibetan polity are first described, with emphasis on the close connections between politics and religion. With the advent of Chinese Communist rule in Tibet, a new account of social identity was introduced where, as a key Marxist concept, "class" became the decisive factor for identifying people. The article describes how the "class" system was put into practice in the Tibetan areas of China and how the introduction of "class" categories provided an account of social identity that paved the way for radical social transformations that were subsequently launched by the Chinese authorities.
Kolås, Åshild (2003) "Class" in Tibet: Creating Social Order Before and During the Mao Era, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 10 (2): 181–200.