TOC, Citizenship, Teaching, Learning 13.2, "Democracy & Citizenship in China"

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Intellect is pleased to announce that Citizenship, Teaching, Learning 13.2 is now available. For more information about the journal, click here >>

Issue focus: Democracy & Citizenship in China


Global citizenship education: An understanding of citizenship education around the globe

Authors: Alan Sears 
Page Start: 163

China: Liberal economic power abroad, politically authoritarian at home

Authors: Eric King Man Chong And Kerry J. Kennedy And Chris Hin Wah Cheung 
Page Start: 167

Chinese students’ perceptions of the ‘good citizen’: Obedience to an authoritarian regime

Authors: Hui Li 
Page Start: 177

All regimes, both democratic and non-democratic, have a bias towards the type of ‘good citizen’ they require. Mainland China, as a typical authoritarian regime, actively proposes and defines its idea of a ‘good citizen’ and implements civic education to cultivate students into becoming the ‘good citizen’ it necessitates. This article is based on research employing qualitative methods to compare the ‘good citizen’ as defined by Chinese authorities with the perceptions of junior high-school students. The purpose of this article is to examine whether students feel they can fulfil the role of ‘good citizen’ as required by the Chinese authoritarian regime. It argues that the majority of students’ perceptions of a ‘good citizen’ are consistent with what Chinese authorities desire. Furthermore, this article indicates that the state’s strong capacity to support the authoritarian regime most likely accounts for the students’ obedience in adopting the qualities of the regime’s desired ‘good citizen’ in mainland China.

Good person, good citizen? The discourses that Chinese youth invoke to make civic and moral meaning

Authors: Xin Xiang And Xu Zhao And Siwen Zhang And Ashley Lee And Yiyu Li And Helen Haste And Zhi Liu And Megan Cotnam-Kappel 
Page Start: 193

In a time of transition, China is formulating principles for moral and civic responsibility and action that will serve the new goals for an expanding world power. How do young Chinese people define the ‘good person’ and ‘good citizen’, and the qualities to which they should aspire, in this changing climate? How do these mesh with the public messages and the historical traditions from which they derive? Using discourse analysis we report data from 8th and 11th grade students in Shanghai and Nantong that reveal four discourses around civic and moral responsibilities, norms and goals. Discourse analysis enables us to identify the underlying explanatory narratives that attribute causality and consequence, position people and institutions, imply judgements and values, and prescribe acceptable or expected actions. The four discourses are (1) Obeying Rules and Laws; (2) Building and Maintaining Relationships; (3) Striving towards Moral Perfection and High ‘Quality’; and (4) Loving One’s Country and Contributing to Society.

The attitudes of mainland Chinese secondary students towards democracy and equality: Being a young citizen in twenty-first-century China

Authors: Chris Hin Wah Cheung And Eric King Man Chong And Kerry J. Kennedy And Philip Chin Fung Chow 
Page Start: 209

The purpose of this article is to explore mainland Chinese students’ attitudes towards democracy and equality and the influence of Chinese national identity on their attitudes towards democracy. The development of Chinese students’ political values is an important topic to the academic community and world because of the rise of China. Although democracy is a universal value and widely promoted, it is a sensitive topic in an authoritarian regime such as China. As more is learnt about the internal workings of the country, especially in relation to citizenship education, the clearer it is that Western constructs alone do not always help in understanding the attitudes of Chinese citizens. Recent work has shown that traditional values characteristic of Asian societies can help to shed light on attitudes to democracy. Research has also has shown that young people in mainland China are very aware of the constraints of their civic environment and they shape their attitudes accordingly. Despite a constrained environment, there is little doubt that young people in Mainland China have very strong views about their country and their citizenship. By adopting mixed methods research, this article explores Chinese secondary school students’ attitudes towards democracy and equality and how their national attitudes affect their attitudes towards democracy. The results indicated that Chinese students were supportive of aspects of democracy and they had a healthy attitude to equality even though they live in contexts quite different from Western-type democratic societies. These findings not only help to develop a better understanding of China itself but also provide insights into the attitudes of students living in an authoritarian regime. It also provide for further comparisons between Eastern and Western societies and democratic and authoritarian regimes.

Religiosity and citizenship values in Chinese language textbooks

Authors: Zhenzhou Zhao And Gregory P. Fairbrother 
Page Start: 227

Recent years have seen an increase in the number of studies of the impact of religious faiths on citizens’ values in several Chinese societies, but little is known about the position and role schooling has had in relation to the rise of religious activity, especially in Mainland China. Drawing on data from Chinese language textbooks at both the primary and secondary level, this study examines the intersection of religiosities and state-prescribed values in the national curriculum in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The wide coverage of different themes related to social life in the Chinese language curriculum may present different understandings of religiosities than the Marxist interpretation of religious phenomenon in other social studies subjects in China. This study’s research findings suggest that representations of religious traditions are integral to depictions of the Chinese nation, including interpretations of the nation’s cultural traditions, architecture, history and literature. Moreover, the religious narratives identified in the textbooks tend to be more associated with the transmission of positive values, for example dedication, love, caring for nature, and a respect for diversity.

Chinese international students in New Zealand: Views of citizenship and democracy

Authors: Xiudi Zhang 
Page Start: 241

Using a case study approach utilizing individual interviews and focus groups, this study examines how Chinese students studying in New Zealand view their citizenship. The focus was on students’ everyday understandings of citizenship after they had some experience of living outside of China in a different citizenship regime. What does citizenship mean to them, given that they are studying in the social context of a democracy in comparison with communist China? Does the transition from life in a communist country to life in a democratic country affect their sense of citizenship? The results showed Chinese international students raised questions about their past citizenship experiences in communist China and how they were influenced by their personal politico-cultural experiences of individualism in New Zealand. As a result, students struggled to understand the meanings of ‘citizen’ and ‘democracy’ and the challenges to their thinking of New Zealand’s democratic context. The advantages of democracy so well understood in the West may not be self-evident to students raised in a system with different values. In general, they formulated different understandings of themselves as citizens in China. The discomforting process of reassessment of citizenship is not always appreciated by Western academics who study Chinese citizenship using Western criteria.

A new virtue-centred education for democratic citizenship

Authors: Tianlong Yu 
Page Start: 253

Guided by a commitment to democratic citizenship needed in Chinese society, this paper makes the case for a new virtue-centred education. Specifically, the paper argues that to revamp and reclaim virtue-centred education: virtues should be emphasized for citizenship building over other purposes; virtues for citizenship must be social justice oriented; and virtues for democratic citizenship and social justice should be political and intellectual in nature, and need to be actively cultivated in schools