The relationship between Regime "Type" and civic education: The cases of three Chinese societies

Hui LI

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


Using a comparative qualitative methodology, this thesis takes three Chinese societies, Taiwan Hong Kong, and Mainland China, as specific cases of democratic, hybrid and authoritarian regimes, and focuses on the concept of 'good citizen' in these three regime contexts. It explores how these concepts are reflected in civic education and perceived by students in the three societies. The results show that there is a close continuity and congruence between regime "type" and civic education, especially in non-democratic societies such as authoritarian and hybrid regimes. Mainland China, characterized in this study as an authoritarian regime, requires a self-contradictory citizen and the concept was directly reflected in a fixed and precisely defined civic education. Hong Kong was characterized as a hybrid regime in which democratic and authoritarian forces have competed and struggled to gain public support even under Chinese sovereignty. This has resulted in a contested concept of 'good citizen' and competing views of civic education proposed to support different political claims. Taiwan provided the example of a democratic regime. It has witnessed changing conceptions of its 'good citizen' directly related to the progress of democratization and attitudes to state sovereignty. Moving through phases, there was an initial emphasis highlighting Chinese citizenship that eventually was replaced with Taiwanese citizenship and finally a dual concept of Taiwanese citizenship with Chinese cultural identity. These phases were also reflected in Taiwan's civic education that changed from a China-centered curriculum to a Taiwan-centered curriculum to an integrated curriculum. As for students, the results within each regime were mostly consistent but in all regimes there was some variation, especially in Taiwan's democracy. Mainland Chinese students shared a unique conception of 'good citizen' which basically fulfills the expectations of the authoritarian regime and its civic education. Hong Kong students formed a mixed conception of 'good citizen' influenced by the debate of democracy and authoritarianism. Taiwan students' perception of 'good citizen', however, went beyond to the expectations of its civic education. The 'good citizen' required by the regimes was directly reflected in civics curriculum irrespective of regime "type". Students as the recipient of civic education, however, responded differently in each regime. It seems to suggest regime capacity was the key element in whether a regime could be assured of producing its required 'good citizen'. This capacity was seen to be linked to the capacity of the state, and Sorensen's three models of state theory indicated that state capacity varied among democratic, hybrid and authoritarian regimes. Thus it seems that while regime "type" strongly influences forms of civic education and the attributes of a 'good citizen', it is a state's capacity to support regime objectives that determines the effectiveness of a regime's efforts to mould and shape the kind of citizens it requires. The thesis further argued that state capacity supporting regimes most likely accounts for the level of resistance by students to adopting the qualities of a regime's desired "good citizen". This resistance appeared less in Mainland China where the state's capacity supporting the regime was strongest. Student attitudes in Hong Kong reflected the hybrid nature of the regime despite the state's capacity supporting the pro-China view. In democratic Taiwan students appeared much more resistant to the regime's views and the state's capacity to moderate this resistance was limited. These comparative results provide the foundation for further work to be carried out on civic education in non-democratic contexts. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • The Hong Kong Institute of Education
  • KENNEDY, Kerry John 甘國臻, Supervisor
  • LO, Shiu Hing Sonny, Supervisor
  • FAIRBROTHER, Gregory Paul, Supervisor
Award date20 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Civics -- Study and teaching -- China
  • Civics -- Study and teaching -- Hong Kong
  • Civics -- Study and teaching -- Taiwan
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ph.D.)--The Hong Kong Institute of Education, 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'The relationship between Regime "Type" and civic education: The cases of three Chinese societies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.