Teaching about national development in Chinese political education


Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


As messages to the rising generation about what the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) considers important regarding the perceptions citizens should hold about state authority, centrally-promulgated citizenship education directives are a primary vehicle for making public the Party’s claims to legitimacy. While claims to legitimacy made by a ruling authority may consist of drawing attention to what it has accomplished or promises to accomplish for the population, legitimacy also arises from citizens’ perceptions of the CCP’s overall character of paternalism, which in turn entails numerous intertwining dimensions. Among these dimensions are an appearance of authoritarianism and moral exemplariness, adherence to a guiding ideology, and concern for the people’s moral instruction. The focus of this paper is on Chinese state attempts, through political education, to demonstrate two further dimensions of paternalism – attention to the people’s material well-being and social stability in the name of economic development, and attempts to inspire among citizens a commitment to and active participation in the improvement of society. It draws upon nearly 50 centrally-issued political education directives from 1979 to 2008 to explore the ways schools have been called upon to teach students about China’s economic development and encourage them to make active contributions to that endeavor.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009


Fairbrother, G. (2009, March). Teaching about national development in Chinese political education. Paper presented at the 53rd Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) 2009: The Politics of Comparison, Charleston, SC.


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