Rights and Citizenship in Chinese Educational Discourse, 1895-1937, with Contemporary Reflections

  • Author / Creator
    Wang, Danqing
  • Intellectual awakening from Confucian traditionalism to modern nationalism, along with social movements from subjecthood to citizenship, emerged in the late Qing dynasty and flourished in early Republican China. Accordingly, the practice of using education to nurture a modern citizenry came into existence. This study is an attempt to understand intellectual influences on the rise and development of citizenship education in China at the turn of the twentieth century through a historical inquiry into the works of leading intellectuals on rights and citizenship, as well as textual analysis of curricula and textbooks in relation to civic education. The evolution of the rights discourse and citizenship education in the late Qing dynasty and early Republican China reflects the ambitions and efforts on the part of intellectuals to create a modern China. This study shows that Chinese intellectuals and educators had gained as much sophisticated understanding of rights and civic education as their Western counterparts by the late 1930s. Tensions between nationalists and liberals over the ultimate goal of rights advocacy, whether to strengthen China among nations or to enhance individual liberty, dominated the rights discussion and affected the content of civic curriculum and textbooks. In contrast to the rights discourse in the late Qing dynasty that tended to associate subjects of rights with state/collectives, rights advocacy in the early Republic began to place greater emphasis on individual rights. In consequence, civic education was led by the military-civilian ideal aimed at strengthening the nation-state, followed by a period of policy adjustments echoing the prevailing appeals to individual rights. Nevertheless, there was too little social and political stability in the early twentieth century for Chinese intellectuals and educators to pursue republican ideals and to carry out civic education in accordance with the spirit of democracy. Inspired by the civic education practices in the early Republican era, a rights-based citizenship education framework is proposed as a conclusion of this study to connect past experiences with contemporary practices in teaching civics.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Educational Policy Studies
  • Specialization
    • Theoretical, Cultural and International Studies in Education
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Dunch, Ryan (History and Classics, East Asian Studies)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Mookerjea, Sourayan (Sociology)
    • Ross, Heidi (Education Leadership and Policy Studies, Indiana University)
    • Kachur, Jerrold (Educational Policy Studies)
    • Jennifer Kelly (Educational Policy Studies)
    • Jennifer Jay (History and Classics)
    • Alison Taylor (Educational Policy Studies)