The teacher-state relationship in China: An exploration of homeroom teachers’ experiences

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With the relaxation of the system of command in China’s public schooling sector and the decline of ideological coercion in the post-Mao era, the Chinese state has reshaped its control over individual teachers. Much effort has been made to analyse the state’s influence on teachers’ academic activities at school, but little attention has been paid to the teacher–state relationship in another facet of teachers’ work, namely the socialisation of students. This article examines Chinese teachers’ perceptions of their relationship with the state through an analysis of homeroom teachers’ perspectives. Using a multi-method approach, this study reveals the teacher–state relationship through three key themes: teacher-profession–state, teacher–school–state, and teacher–market–state. The findings indicate that the post-Mao regime seeks to monitor and control homeroom teachers using indirect, subtle methods, and that teachers have a complicated understanding of the state’s articulation of their role and status. Copyright © 2014 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-164
JournalInternational Studies in Sociology of Education
Issue number2
Early online dateMar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014



Zhao, Z. (2014). The teacher-state relationship in China: An exploration of homeroom teachers’ experiences. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 24(2), 148-164.


  • China
  • State
  • School bureaucracy
  • Market
  • Teacher experiences
  • Professionalisation