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

Chris Hin Wah CHEUNG, King Man Eric CHONG, Kerry John KENNEDY, Philip Chin Fung CHOW

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

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. Copyright © 2018 Intellect Ltd Article.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-225
JournalCitizenship Teaching and Learning
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

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twenty-first century
equality
democracy
citizen
China
student
regime
citizenship
society
Values
national identity
secondary school

Citation

Cheung, C. H. W., Chong, E. K. M., Kennedy, K. J., & Chow, P. C. F. (2018). The attitudes of mainland Chinese secondary students towards democracy and equality: Being a young citizen in twenty-first-century China. Citizenship Teaching & Learning, 13(2), 209-225. doi: 10.1386/ctl.13.2.209_1

Keywords

  • China
  • Citizenship education
  • Students
  • Civic values
  • Democracy
  • Equality