Discipline, creativity and individualization in Chinese schools (completed)
The project is an anthropological study of learning and schooling in rural China. It is based on fieldwork in Chinese rural schools in the period from 2008-2012. The project has resulted in the publication of several articles and a monograph is currently under review by a major American university publisher.
About the project
The project addresses some of the fundamental issues in contemporary China studies and social anthropology:
- the relation between individual and collective as taught and experienced
- social organization of rural youth; gender and generational conflicts
- the inner life of a state organization
Chinese society and culture is, if anything, characterized by a remarkably profound respect and reverence for formal education. From remote villages to the metropolises of Shanghai and Beijing, parents save money, use their personal connections, and pray to the gods in the hope that at least one child will make it through the education system. This will not only improve the prospects for a more secure future, but bring honor and face to the entire family.
The Chinese government and the Communist Party have established schools all over China, keeping time tight control over the content and form of learning, and ensuring that a national system of education is upheld. While the Chinese education system has been subject to many historical and some sociological studies, few anthropological fieldwork studies have been carried out within schools, not the least in rural China.
The research project, based on a long-term and comprehensive study of life in a rural senior middle school (textbooks, teaching methods, social interactions, communication, and local perceptions of education), will result in a number of articles and a monograph about how individualization and morality is taught, learned, and experienced in the Chinese state school.