CGHE Seminar 64

Exploring the role of higher education in the formation of civic and social attitudes in contemporary China

  • Thursday, 16 Nov 2017 12:30 - 14:00
  • Room 537, UCL Institute of Education
  • Ye Liu, King’s College London

Chair: Vincent Carpentier

This presentation, based on Dr Liu’s recent work with Professor Wenqin Shen from Peking University, investigates the extent to which higher education experiences shape young people’s civic engagement and social attitudes in China.

They draw upon empirical evidence from 68 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with university students from different social backgrounds and in different universities.

The preliminary findings suggest that in the context of a weak prior tradition of civic engagement, our respondents seem to develop varied patterns of public engagement which are often fragile and erratic. The findings also suggest an enduring Confucian tradition of trust based on quasi-familist networks.

Furthermore, the most educated youth still demonstrate a low level of tolerance for homosexuals and the migrant underclass. In some cases, respondents even seek to use knowledge derived from their study to justify such prejudices.

This study provides new evidence on the formation of youth social attitudes which had previously been under-researched. It contributes to our understanding of the inter-related nature of the expansion of higher education and the complex socioeconomic and political forces that both help and hinder the formation of a civic and tolerant society in China.

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Ye Liu

Ye Liu

Dr Ye Liu is a Lecturer in International Development at King’s College London. She was awarded a Junior Sociologist Prize by the International Sociology Association (RC32 Women in Society) for her research on women’s participation in higher education in China in 2014. She was also awarded the 2014 SRHE Newer Researchers Award for her study on university choices. Her first monograph entitled Higher Education, Meritocracy and Inequality in China was published by Springer in September 2016. Her recent research examines how the persistent norms of patriarchy affect career aspirations and family planning for the women from the One-Child generation.

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