Socialism was more than a political regime or economic system. It was an ideology – a way of thinking and behaving. The socialist state attempted to instil a particular identity in its citizens. Successful or not, it was something citizens of the socialist state had to take into account. The collapse of socialism (or, in China, its modifi cation) has meant people have been forced to come to terms with its economic and political impacts at the same time as they are forced to search within themselves to see who they are and who they want to be.