To read this content please select one of the options below:

Beyond the state’s reach? Education and citizen making in China

Zhenzhou Zhao (Department of Curriculum and Instruction, The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)
Canglong Wang (Department of Modern Languages, Faculty of Arts Cultures and Education, University of Hull, Hull, UK)

Social Transformations in Chinese Societies

ISSN: 1871-2673

Article publication date: 18 September 2023

Issue publication date: 20 November 2023




This special issue aims to address the complexities and dynamics in contemporary China’s citizen-making processes, with a focus on the educational dimension.


The four articles in this special issue present citizen-making processes in both educational and cultural arenas. Based on the rich, first-hand data collected inside and outside China, the researchers revealed the dynamics of the educative processes, as the interplay of different mechanisms produces new understandings of citizenship practice.


This special issue sheds light on the rise of new types of citizens, who are emerging at the grassroots level in China, beyond the state’s strict direct regulations, along with the rise of market forces and multicultural communities in Chinese society today. Contributors to this special issue have captured an ongoing change, in that the diversified citizen-making mechanisms are, to a certain extent, mitigating the party-state’s definitive monopoly on forging citizens and are creating new spaces for individuals to develop fresh forms of political subjectivity and citizenship practice. In this sense, we argue for the unpacking of the citizen-making processes in present-day China not only from the lens of state-dominated, top-down initiatives but also from that of participatory, bottom-up initiatives performed by grassroots groups with differentiated socio-economic statuses and cultural traditions.


This special issue can be regarded as a contribution to the growing field of Chinese citizenship studies, which constitutes an integral part of the unfinished project of citizenship after orientalism.



The author are grateful to Professor Lui Tai-lok, the Editor of Social Transformations in Chinese Studies, who kindly provided very valuable advice on this special issue. We also would like to acknowledge the contributions of the Centre for Greater China Studies, the Education University of Hong Kong; Faculty of Arts, Cultures and Education, University of Hull; and the China Studies Centre and Sydney School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney, for their support for the International Interdisciplinary Virtual Conference of “Citizenship and Education in Contemporary Chinese Societies: Contexts, Perspectives, and Understandings”, which was successfully held in January 2022.

Funding: The work described in this paper was substantially supported by a grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (EdUHK 18603820). The research is also part of the Open Project for International Cooperation Research, funded by the State Key Laboratory of Subtropical Building Science (Yaredai jianzhu kexue guojia zhongdian shiyanshi) at South China University of Technology (2020ZA01).


Zhao, Z. and Wang, C. (2023), "Beyond the state’s reach? Education and citizen making in China", Social Transformations in Chinese Societies, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 73-83.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles