CfP: Experiences and Mobility of Overseas Chinese students and scholars in Chinese Education and Society journal

CALL FOR PAPERS

Chinese Education and Society

 

Special Issue 2019

Experiences and Mobility of Overseas Chinese students and scholars

 Guest editors:

Dian Liu, Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Stavanger, Norway

Ming Cheng, Professor, Faculty of Education, Edge Hill University, UK

The past decades have witnessed an unprecedented deepening of internationalization in higher education (Altbach et al., 2019), leading to growing academic mobility in terms of overseas’ university participation, as well as staff and student exchange across cultures.  China is a case in point. In 2016, 544,500 Chinese students studied aboard. About 30% were doing undergraduate study, and 35.51% were enrolled in post-graduate study. Additionally, there is a rising portion of overseas students returning to China after graduation. Others choose to stay abroad and look for jobs (Science Net, 2017).

The purpose of this special issue of Chinese Education and Society is to better understand the timely experience and mobility of the overseas Chinese students and scholars responding to emerging new patterns of mobility. Topics include but are not restricted to:

  1. China’s role as an education provider for mobile students and scholars
  2. Brain drain, brain gain and brain circulation of the overseas Chinese
  3. The individual mobility trajectory of Chinese students
  4. Job search and employability of Chinese graduates
  5. Identity and integration of the overseas Chinese
  6. Regional or national facilities in promoting mobility of students and scholars

Chinese Education and Society is published by Taylor & Francis. https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/mced20/current.

Please send your proposed paper title and abstract within 250 words to the issue editors: Dr Dian Liu at dian.liu@uis.no , and Professor Ming Cheng at chengm@edgehill.ac.uk , by the date July 31, 2019. The abstract contains aim of the study, research methods, main arguments and a summary of findings. Acceptance of abstracts will be made by August 30, 2019, and a full manuscript between 4,000-6,000 words will be invited to be submitted by December 31, 2019, including full text, reference list and appendices (if applicable). All the submissions will be subject to double-blind peer review. We thank your contribution to the special issue!

References

Altbach, P. G., et al. (2019). Trends in global higher education: Tracking an academic revolution. Brill.

Science Net. (2017, 1 March). Ministry of Education Releases 2016 Statistics for Outgoing and Incoming Education in China, ScienceNet.cn. Retrieved from http://news.sciencenet.cn/htmlnews/2017/3/369188.shtm

CfP: Conference on Vocational Education in China, 7-9 June 2019 in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province

The following conference might be of interest to Network members interested in vocational education and education mobilities.

关于举办“新时代职业教育改革与发展”暨

第六届职业教育新思维博士论坛的通知

各位职业教育同行:

中国人民共和国成立70周年来,我国职业教育取得了举世瞩目的成就,建立了世界最大规模的职业教育体系。但面临新时代新的形势,职业教育还有很多新的使命和任务。为进一步贯彻十九大报告“完善职业教育和培训体系”和全国教育大会“构建德智体美劳全面培养的教育体系”的会议精神,深入探讨《国家职业教育改革实施方案》相关议题,推动新时代职业教育理论与实践创新,第六届职业教育新思维博士论坛将于2019年6月7-9日在江苏徐州举行。为更好地做好各项筹备工作,现将会议有关事项通知如下:

一、会议主题:新时代职业教育改革与发展

二、主要议题

(一)类型教育担当与职业教育特色发展

新时代对职业教育提出了新要求,职业教育要勇于担当类型教育,培养新时代需要的高素质技术技能人才。建国70年来,职业教育作为一种类型的教育之成长经历了怎样的风雨历程?时至如今,从效仿普通教育中脱壳而出,职业教育作为名副其实的类型教育,应如何在处理与普通教育交叉融通的关系中凸显自身的特色?国际上,作为类型的职业教育模式,有哪些值得效仿的经验?彰显职业教育特色的职业教育国家制度框架如何建构?

(二)职业教育发展与人民美好生活需要

70年的历史沉淀,成就了全世界最大规模的职业教育体系。然而,在新的时代职业教育发展的不平衡不充分与人民日益增长的美好生活需要之间的矛盾如何破?职业教育如何在服务经济发展与满足个人需要之间张弛有度?职业教育如何在德智体美劳全面培养方面铸就新时代的大国工匠?1+X证书制度如何在满足学生可持续发展的基础上成就多元需求?“双师型”教师队伍培养如何满足学生技能成长需要?技术技能型人才的待遇水平如何得以切实提高?

(三)劳动教育的时代内涵与普职教育对话

劳动教育与职业教育有着天然的联系。习近平同志在全国教育大会中重新阐释了劳动教育的时代价值。在新的时期,劳动教育的内涵是什么?劳动教育在德智体美劳全面培养的教育体系中处于怎样的地位?在搭建普职教育融通中,劳动教育起到怎样的纽带作用?以此为基础,职业教育在中小学综合实践活动、劳动技术、通用技术等课程模块中如何发挥应有的价值?职业教育又如何在促进学生职业体验、渗透职业启蒙教育中发挥其天然的优势?

(四)现代职业教育治理与体制机制改革

为满足新时代经济结构调整和产业升级的需要,现代职业教育与培训体系必须通过各项改革与治理走向不断完善。职业教育国家制度框架如何在体现本土特色中实现与国际接轨?职业教育国家教学相关标准的制定如何走向规范化?职业教育“双师型”教师培养培训体系如何规范?职业院校从企业聘用全职教师是否可行?如何推进职业教育国家“学分银行”制度建设?应建立怎么的职业教育办学质量国家督导机制?职业教育工作联席会议如何在多部门协调中解决职业教育发展中的重大现实问题?

三、会议议程

时间 主题 具体安排
6.7 下午 报到
6.8 上午 主题论坛 共4-5位发言人

每位发言人主旨发言15分钟,最后集体讨论20分钟

下午 主题论坛 共4-5位发言人

每位发言人主旨发言15分钟,最后集体讨论20分钟

6.9 上午 自由讨论 共10位发言人

每位发言人主旨发言5分钟,最后集体讨论30分钟

下午 离会

四、会议主办、承办与协办单位

主办单位:职业教育新思维

承办单位:江苏师范大学教育科学学院(教师教育学院)

协办单位:江苏理工学院

华东师范大学长三角职业教育发展研究院

浙江工业大学教育科学与技术学院

五、论文提交

为便于交流学习,请各位学者围绕会议主题从历史、比较和理论等不同维度撰写论文,大会特别鼓励具有交叉学科背景、对职业教育有深入研究的博士提交论文并参会。为便于会务组做好准备工作,请与会代表于2019年5月10日前将论文摘要和会议回执发至会议专用邮箱:xiaohan.zhang@jsnu.edu.cn。大会将从提交的论文摘要中择优选取,确定主旨发言人。另由于接待能力有限,本次大会规模将控制在80人左右,参与人员将根据回执顺序和论文质量确定。

六、会议费用

本次论坛由承办方全力资助,与会者无需缴纳会务费,但住宿费、交通费需自理。如需回单位报销相关费用,承办方可提供正式邀请函。单间:360元/晚;标间:425元/晚。由于单间数量有限,大会鼓励参会人员拼房住宿。

七、会议报到地点

江苏省徐州市铜山新区华山路8号 宝信君澜度假酒店

八、会务组联系方式

联系人:陈  鹏  15952119504

张晓寒  18752125635

王  辉  19851603818

E-mail:xiaohan.zhang@jsnu.edu.cn

为方便会议接待,会务组特建立微信群“第六届职业教育新思维博士论坛”,欢迎参会者入群了解会议相关信息。

 

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Migration premium? The economic returns to youth inter-province migration in post-reform China

Zhao, M., & Hu, Y. (2019). Migration premium? The economic returns to youth inter-province migration in post-reform China. Journal of Youth Studies, 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1080/13676261.2019.1587153

mengyao

Mengyao Zhao, PhD Candidate, Bielefeld University

Yang Hu

Dr Yang Hu, Lecturer in Sociology and Data Science, Lancaster University

Every year, millions of young people migrate away from their home provinces for higher education and employment in China. However, less is known about the extent to which Chinese young people may benefit economically from their migration. Analyzing nationally representative data from the new China College Student Survey, our paper examines the impact of inter-province migration on the starting salaries of Chinese young people after undergraduate studies.

What is “migration premium”?

A growing body of evidence suggests that young people benefit economically from migration (Jewell, & Faggian, 2014; Kazakis, & Faggian, 2017). To explain potential mechanisms underlying the migration premium, the human capital perspective posits that individuals migrate to maximize lifetime utility at different life stages. Further to the human capital perspective, scholars such as Kaufmann, Bergman and Joye (2004) explicitly conceptualized the capacity to be geographically mobile as a form of capital. The authors indicated that, despite possessing similar levels of human capital, migrants enjoy additional economic returns compared with those who stay put. This conceptualization usefully acknowledges the value of migration—not as a means to an end (of gaining human capital), but as an end in itself, above and beyond human capital. Instead of considering individuals’ “capability” to be mobile as a reified capital (cf. Kaufmann, Bergman, & Joye, 2004), Bourdieu (1986) usefully conceptualized capital as a relational construct: the generation of capital is dependent on social practices (e.g. geographical mobility) that “match” one’s dispositions to the specific “field” in which such dispositions are valued (Bourdieu 1986, 241). Therefore, if young people actively mobilize their dispositions and capital (e.g. human, cultural, social, political and symbolic) through migration to find a most suitable place for education and work (Bourdieu, 1986, 241), we would expect such mobilization to entail favorable economic returns.

Hypothesis 1 (migration premium): Youth migration is associated with a positive economic return, net of pre-existing human, social, political and cultural capital.

A tale of two fields: Education versus work migration

Youth migration in post-reform China is governed by a complex interaction between centralist state-control and market forces; and the interaction has followed divergent paths in the higher education sector and the labor market.

Higher education sector. Post-socialist reforms have entailed the devolution of higher education funding from the central government to regional, provincial and municipal authorities (Wang, 2011). Since the ability of local authorities to establish a university has become closely tied to the socioeconomic resources held within their region, 59% of the national key universities—prestigious and well-funded higher education institutions—are located in eastern China. The uneven geographic spread of universities serves as a major driver for many young people to migrate in order to pursue higher education at a prestigious institution (Liu et al., 2017).

Besides, the central government continues to exert tight control over higher education admissions. Most high school graduates are required to take the College Entrance Examination (CEE)—a nationally standardized assessment that forms an integral part of the university admissions system (Wang, 2011). Although students are afforded some freedom to strategize where and what to study, their mobility often represents the result of state allocation or else a compromise between one’s CEE score, desire to attend a prestigious institution, and a preferred and suitable subject area, in response to state intervention.

Graduate labor market. China’s socioeconomic reform has given young people greater freedom than before to navigate their employment in the graduate labor market. In the 1990s, the centralized job assignment system was abolished. Today, young people in China often actively migrate between provinces in order to secure appropriate employment opportunities and maximize their economic returns.

As migration choices are more limited for education than for work and young people have greater freedom to navigate their work migration as opposed to being institutionally channeled to migrate for higher education (Liu et al., 2017), we expect greater economic returns to Chinese young people’s work than education migration.

Hypothesis 2 (context difference): Work migration generates a higher level of migration premium than migration for higher education.

Stratified access to migration premium: Hukou difference

 China’s hukou (household registration) policy has helped shape youth migration. Given the scarcity of higher education and non-agricultural employment opportunities in rural areas, migration is often the only option for rural young people to participate in higher education and non-agricultural work (Wang, 2011). Negative stigmas attached to rural hukou origin are widely documented in the Chinese labor market (Liu et al., 2017). Compared with their urban-origin counterparts, the negative stigmas and labor market discrimination faced by rural-origin young people may limit or offset the economic premium associated with their migration.

Hypothesis 3 (hukou difference): Migration generates a greater economic premium for young people of urban hukou origin than for young people of rural hukou origin.

Analyzing new national data using propensity score matching

We used data from the 2010, 2013 and 2015 China College Student Survey (CCSS) (see https://ccss.applysquare.com/index for more information). The CCSS is a nationally representative cross-sectional survey conducted by the China Data Center at Tsinghua University. Since our focus is on the impact of migration on starting salaries, we limited our analytical sample to students who had received at least one job offer when surveyed. Information such as location and salary of the highest-paying offer was collected. Our final analytical sample contains 5,906 respondents.

Based on three variables on the respondents’ pre-university province, university province, and employment province (i.e. the province of the highest-paying job offer), we devised a five-fold typology to distinguish inter-province education migration and work migration, based on prior studies (Jewell, & Faggian, 2014; Kazakis, & Faggian, 2016). The five groups are: Non-migrant (neither migrated for education nor for work), late migrant (migrated for work but not for education), return migrant (migrated for education and then returned to one’s province of origin for work), college stayer (migrated for education and stayed in the province of university attendance for work), and repeat migrant (migrated for education and then migrated to a third province for work).

We devised six sets of inter-group comparisons to explore the impact of inter-province migration on young people’s starting salary. Furthermore, we adopted the propensity score matching (PSM) method in our analysis (Jewell, & Faggian, 2014). The outcome variable is the (logged) salary of the highest-paying job offer received by a student, measured in the unit of Chinese yuan.

Migration premium and the exacerbation of social inequalities in China

  • Migration premium. The results for the whole sample support Hypothesis 1, that youth migration—for education and for work—is associated with positive economic returns. Our results show that youth migration, particularly for work, generates positive economic returns beyond the accumulation of human, political and cultural capitals, even after controlling for wage disparities across Chinese provinces.
  • Education vs. work migration. The results lend support to Hypothesis 2, that work migration is associated with a higher level of economic return than education migration. In addition to demonstrating the existence of the migration premium at an aggregate level, our findings also shed light on the nuanced ways in which this premium is contingent on the context in which migration takes place (cf. Bourdieu, 1986). Chinese young people enjoy a greater migration premium in the increasingly devolved and privatized graduate labor market than in the higher education sector.
  • Hukou Hypothesis 3, which states that urban-origin young people enjoy a greater migration premium than those of rural origin, is partly supported by the results. Chinese young people of different hukou origins benefitted unequally from the migration premium, which may serve to entrench pre-existing socioeconomic inequalities between rural and urban hukou holders. We found that young people of urban origin enjoy a higher level of economic return to their education migration than their rural-origin counterparts. Differentiated access to the education migration premium for rural-origin and urban-origin young people comes on top of the fact that urban-origin young people enjoy a substantially higher baseline starting salary than those of the same migration status but of rural origin. Thus, far from being a “grand equalizer,” migration for higher education may exacerbate existing socioeconomic disparities and structural inequalities caused by hukou by stratifying the degree to which young people of rural and urban hukou origins can benefit socioeconomically from the process of migration.

References

Bourdieu, P. (1986). “The Forms of Capital.” In Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education, edited by John G. Richardson, 241-258. New York: Greenwood.

Jewell, S., & Faggian, A. (2014). Interregional migration ‘Wage Premia’: the case of creative and science and technology graduates in the UK. In Applied Regional Growth and Innovation Models (pp. 197-214). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Kaufmann, V., Bergman, M. M., & Joye, D. (2004). Motility: mobility as capital. International journal of urban and regional research, 28(4), 745-756.

Kazakis, P., & Faggian, A. (2017). Mobility, education and labor market outcomes for US graduates: Is selectivity important? The Annals of Regional Science, 1-28.

Liu, Y., Shen, J., Xu, W., & Wang, G. (2017). From school to university to work: migration of highly educated youths in China. The Annals of Regional Science 59(3): 651-76.

Wang, L. (2011). Social exclusion and inequality in higher education in China: A capability perspective. International Journal of Educational Development31(3), 277-286.

 Authors’ Bio

Mengyao Zhao is a PhD student at the Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University, Germany. Since enrolled in the doctoral program in 2015, she has also worked as a research associate in the research project, “Bright Futures: A Comparative Study of Internal and International Mobility of Chinese Higher Education Students”, which is jointly-funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), Economic and Social Research Council (UK), and National Science Foundation (China). Her doctoral thesis focuses on “Internal migration and labour market outcomes of college graduates in China”, in which she examines the impact of geographic mobility/migration on sector entry and starting salaries for the new labour market entrants with college degrees in China.

BookDr Yang Hu is a Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University, UK. He is also an early career fellow at the Work Family Researchers Network, USA. He obtained his PhD in Sociology as a Gates Scholar from the University of Cambridge. His research focuses on the sociology of families and intimate relationships, race/ethnicity and migration, and East Asian societies. He is the author of Chinese–British Intermarriage: Disentangling Gender and Ethnicity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). He has published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, European Sociological Review, Journal of Sex Research, Demographic Research, Environment and Planning A, Population, Space and Place, Journal of Family Issues, and British Journal of Sociology of Education.

 

Revisiting China’s Africa policies and educational promises: Towards a global convergence of development in the post-2015 era?

Tingting Yuan (2019): Revisiting China’s Africa policies and educational
promises: towards a global convergence of development in the post-2015 era?, Globalisation, Societies and Education, DOI: 10.1080/14767724.2019.1595534

Tingting-Yuan-(1)

Dr Tingting Yuan, Bath Spa University

Comparing China’s 2006 (Policy 1) and 2015 (Policy 2) Africa policies, this recently published article reveals how China’s political discourse has become more confident, practical, and depoliticised. In particular, this paper shows how education is allocated, promised, and embedded in China’s ‘shared’ agenda, which is centred on development co-operation and mutual learning.

The first part of this paper looks at the changing discourse of China’s African policies. It is found that, first, Policy 2 has a more determined and confident discourse. It  highlights the role of China in the current global political economy such as ‘the world’s second largest economy’ and ‘an active player in the current international system that has helped build it and contributed to it’, which was not emphasised in Policy 1. Policy 2 also provides a clearer argument regarding the need to sustain such a relationship and a plan for how to do so in the future. Moreover, Policy 2 underscores the common pursuit of development to realise both the ‘Chinese dream’ and ‘African dream’, thus creating a ‘shared future’.  Second, China plays the role of the ‘actor’ rather than ‘declarer’ in Policy 2. The policy provides more details on co-operation plans, particularly ‘economic and trade co-operation’, ‘development co-operation’, and ‘cultural and people-to-people co-operation’. In contrast, Policy 1 did not have a section on ‘development co-operation’. Policy 2 made far more promises regarding ‘development’. These promises are more technical, practical, and achievable than those only briefly outlined in Policy 1. From the foreign aid perspective, Policy 2 represents a more ‘professional’ attempt to create an effective policy, one with reduced political and ideological rhetoric. Although it has yet to follow the example of Western donors in terms of aid delivery and evaluation, China has switched to a more action-based approach to demonstrate its strengthened commitment to international development since Policy 1.

Based on this comparison, the paper continues to reveal a key feature of the current African policy and related Forum on China-African cooperation (FOCAC) action plans – development based on mutual learning. Knowledge, skills, and experience sharing are highlighted in China’s promise. Defined as a key factor in Human Resource Development (HRD), education inevitably plays a key role here. This greatly exceeds formal education. Despite being specifically stated in the sub-section on ‘cooperation in education and HRD’ in Policy 2, educational activities like experience exchange activities conducted by ‘academic institutions’ and ‘joint research centres’ in science and technology also appear in the other sub-sections. In terms of the educational co-operation approaches stated in the policies, there is a growing emphasis on tertiary education and vocational training. This includes an increasing number of Chinese government scholarships and the provision of training in the form of seminars and workshops. This also involves enhanced university co-operation including the involvement of the top ranked universities in China and Africa. Despite all of these progresses in education in terms of increased quantity as well as emphasised quality improvement, what may be distinctive in China’s educational promise? The paper argues that, it is not the allocation of education in development or social development discourse that is distinctive, but the rationale of embedding education and training as an essential aspect of two-way but independent development. Moreover, it is not China’s approach of providing ‘education’ that is distinctive, but the ‘experience’ shared through educational activities. Not simply an area of co-operation in China’s Africa policy, education is embedded in many places in China’s experience sharing agenda.

The last part of the paper reflects on China’s current position in the global political economy. It tries to answer the question asked in the beginning of the paper: is the rise of China is conforming to the dominant trends in international development today? It is argued that the revealed features represent China’s harmonised position in international development rather than a clear convergence. These features did not change the nature of China’s distinctiveness, which is partly rooted in its unique history. While China may show some similarity to the patterns or approaches of the West in terms of its aid discourse and practice, it does not show a similar position in terms of influencing or persuading others in the process of national and global development.

This paper concludes by highlighting two main points. First, China is trying to consolidate its position and be more active through an updated version of policy discourse that represents both the (a) current international agenda on development and poverty reduction; and (b) its own understanding on the foundation of international development—that is, the ‘shared’ past, present ,and future. This brings a wide range of educational activities to an essential place in order to achieve development through ‘learning from one another’. Second, China has a special position on education. However, while devoting increasing effort to educational aid and co-operation, it is not shaping education policies globally but focus is on self-enhancement and exchanging its ‘indigenous solution’ to economic development via education.

Neither the Washington Consensus which promotes a globalised neoliberalism, nor the Beijing consensus which is based on a pragmatic and flexible ‘Chinese socialist economy’, is globally accepted today. If convergence is defined as agreement on one specific model of development, then there remains no convergence in this matter. However, it can be concluded that, using a convergent approach and technique, China brings its experience and logic of development to the current international agenda at a time when the country’s distinctiveness is becoming increasingly recognised. It is thus important to recognise that every nation state can historicise and position itself in a unique way; a convergent model may not be as essential as a convergent attitude towards incorporating diverse voices and solutions in the realm of international development.

 

Author Bio

Dr Tingting Yuan is a Senior Lecturer in International Education at Bath Spa University. She was a lecturer at Liverpool Hope University from 2012 to 2016 after she gained her Ph.D. in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol. Her doctoral research was on ‘Chinese educational aid to Africa’ which included a series of fieldwork undertaken in Tanzania and China. Her broader research interests include public goods and education, globalisation and education, international aid of education, China-Africa cooperation, and other educational issues related to the global political economy.

Understanding Educational Inequalities in a Transitional Era: The Surging Role of Culture Practice in Chinese Sociology of Education

Ailei Xie

Dr Ailei XIE, Guangzhou University, China

Research highlighted

Xie, Ailei, Kuang, Huan, Hong, Yanbi, and Liu Qunqun.(2018a) . Integrated cultural capital investment and social adjustment of urban and rural students in elite universities (in Chinese). Higher Education Research39(9), 30-36.

Xie, Ailei, Kuang, Huan, Hong, Yanbi, and Postiglione, Gerard A (2018b). Cultural capital deficiency as challenges: rural students in Elite universities (in Chinese). Peking University Education Review, 16(4), 45-64.

Xie, Ailei.(2016) . Rural Students in China’ Elite University: Social Mobility and Habitus Transformation” (in Chinese). Education Research16(4), 74-81.

 

In less than 40 years, China has become the world’s second largest economy. Encouraged by the link between schooling and a modern state, tremendous efforts have been made by the Chinese government to expand its school system. The higher education sector, for example, experienced an unprecedented growth since the end of the 1990s. The number of students has increased from less than 0.86 million in 1978, when the socialist country tried to reopen it to the outside world, to more than 27.53 million in 2017 (National Bureau of Statistics of China 2017). With its increasing capacity to serve more students, a key question is whether the education system has become more equal (Xie 2015a, 2015b). The literature produced in recent years suggest a patterned school success. While urban students still outperformed their counterparts from rural areas in term of access to quality schooling and universities, the changing fabric of the social structure gradually left those students with a lower socioeconomic status far behind (Postiglione 2015). In other words, the rural-urban gap is still there, and the rising socioeconomic differences among people are having their imprint on Chinese education system. The education opportunity structure is still changing but becomes increasingly clear, leaving more questions on how the new education opportunity structure becomes possible.

The market transition brings back the issue of capital and its role in social competition for privileges in education (Postiglione, 2015). Yet, the picture depicted by the literature is still unclear, which reveals the complexities in understanding a society that is in constant transformation. For example, economic capital is an important predictor for admission into first-tier universities. Yet, controlling the influence of family residence, father’s occupation as well as level of education, students from high income families are less likely than their counterparts from middle- and low-income families to gain access to higher education institutions (Chen 2015). Social capital helps for school success (Xie & Postiglione 2016; Xie 2016a). Yet, it works only partially for employment upon university graduation (Lai, Meng & Su 2012). Cultural capital helps in middle schools, but does not work out in universities, for academic performance (Zhu 2018). The complex picture of the roles played by varied forms of capital highlights the importance of understanding the social and cultural context by applying the concept capital developed in western contexts.

My publications over the past two years are inspired by the work of Bourdieu on cultural capital. The data used in each of the publications is from a mixed-methods ongoing longitudinal study of students at four elite, research intensive, public Project 985 universities (The Study of Elite Universities Student Experience, SEUSE) in China. The concept cultural capital itself has the potential to demystify the privileges in education that certain social groups (for example, the urban and middle class) have. As a new structure is arising, the ways those privileged social groups have in passing their advantages to their children are becoming more sophisticated. Yet, a misuse of it may tend to imply that the Chinese social structure is static, and a dominant culture have already gained its arbitrariness. Under such circumstances, some may assume that assimilation to mainstream culture can mean privileges, while rebellion can entail failures in schools. Yet, this is questionable. My paper published in Higher Education Research (Xie 2018a), for example, suggests a mixed practice in cultural capital investment, which I conceptualize as integrated cultural capital strategy. It suggests that the cultural practices of middle-class families in cities provide their children with advantages in social success in elite universities. Furthermore, their cultural practice is featured by their investment in both highbrow cultural activities participation (for example, visiting art museums, attending classical concerts and visiting theater plays) as well as trainings in helping children to gain such skills as singing, dancing and playing musical instruments. The trainings demonstrate a preference to low-brow cultural consumption. Yet, this, by no means, suggests a cultural omnivore among the emerging largest middle-class group (Sintas & Álvarez, 2002). Rather, it arises from the intensive status competitions among middle class parents who are influenced heavily by a neo-liberal discourse on individual responsibilities for their own success (Ball 2003). While there is not a clear pattern of dominant culture practice, anxious middle-class parents in cities tend to invest on anything that they think might bring privileges to their children. And, these cultural capital strategies are successfully translated into their children’s social success in elite universities. Rural students are left far behind in terms of social success, with their chances of being appointed/selected as leaders of important students’ bodies remaining low (Xie, 2018a).

Gaining insights from Lareau’s tradition in interpreting cultural capital as family strategies that align with schools’ institutional rewards, my paper in Peking University Education Review examines how the above-mentioned cultural practices bring privileges to urban students in China’s most elite universities (Xie 2018b). While the paper published on Higher Education Research is based on the quantitative data collected in SEUSE, this paper is based on both the quantitative and qualitative data. What the data analysis suggests is that the integrated cultural capital strategy is translated into urban students’ privileges in social success in two ways. First, it cultivates a sense of belongings and entitlement to elite universities among urban middle-class students. Second and more importantly, it helps them to build the confidence to succeed, a mixed effect of both highbrow cultural activities’ participation and long-term training in cultural skills. For those students from rural background, they could barely understand the importance of the social aspects of their university life upon coming to the elite milieu. What is even worse is that they feel “being socially incompetent”, a feeling caused by the lack of family investment in trainings of cultural skills in singing, dancing and playing musical instruments (Xie, 2018b).

What I suggest is that these micro-level analyses could not be fully understood without a knowledge on the macro-level changes. In a fast-changing society with a more dynamic social structure, different social groups are competing for the cultural hegemony by empowering their own cultural tastes, dispositions and practice into a more senior position. The anxious urban middle-class families are, to some extent, successful in imposing their values onto the whole society, including those vulnerable social groups from the rural communities. Their integrated social capital strategy is also rewarded by China’s elite universities. Yet, the strategy itself is still ambivalent, featured for its nature of half-breed between highbrow culture and lowbrow culture participations, reflecting a fierce status competition among the newly-made middle class families and the fear of falling from their privileged places. The new boundary setting up by the urban middle class shows another face of the rapid-changing Chinese society, and the gradual solidification of the social structure. Investment in cultural practices that is still unclear in its fabrics and has not yet fully gained its hegemony in the society demands not only tremendous efforts but also entails high risks for individuals. It produces new barriers for social groups that have long been marginalized.

At the collective level, cultural practices help in shaping and reinforcing group identities. They produce loyalties and shape group/class relationships to education (Reay 2017). The third paper I introduced was published in Education Research (Xie 2016b) and is further developed in a manuscript that is under review. It examines the rural’s relationship to education by looking at the habitus transformation of rural students in elite universities. From a Bourdieusian perspective, the rural students may come to the elite environment as cultural outsiders, which may suggest the importance of habitus transformation for academic and social success. The premise is that there is a hierarchical relationship between the home culture and dominant culture rewarded in an elite environment. The feeling that their home culture is inferior to the dominant culture brings a painful dislocation between an old and a newly developing identity and becomes barriers to integration at elite universities. Yet, my analysis of a small group of academically successful rural students’ interview data suggests two different types of integration outcomes for them in an elite environment: “habitus transformation” and “habitus hysteresis”. I argue that the reason is they start from a compartmentalized fitness between their original habitus and the elite milieu they enter (Xie 2016b). This again reveals the characteristics of a society in transition. The cultural practices of the urban middle class are gaining its dominant position, bringing advantages to their children: the habitus alignment between their home environment and the elite institution. Yet, its half-breed, evolving nature and not yet fully arbitrary position leave space for students from other backgrounds. For example, those rural students coming to an elite environment find their own cultural elements are partially aligned with that of the emerging middle class in cities (valuing education and highlighting hard work). Some of them take refuge in a sense of familiarity and hide from unfamiliar social challenges in the new elite milieu. In other words, the field conditions have changed but their habitus lags behind. Yet, full integration into universities guarantees more chances in the accumulation of social and cultural capital (Stuber 2011).

All of the three publications gain theoretical insights from the work of Bourdieu on cultural capital (Bourdieu 1984, 1986, 1988), as well as later studies by DiMaggio (1982, 1997, 2012) and Lareau (1988, 2000, 2002). They, however, examine its relevance by placing it in the specific social context of Chinese society which is in constant flux. By linking the macro-level analysis on the competition for arbitrariness of their own cultural practices by city middle class to micro-level competition for privileges in elite universities, these papers explore the possibilities of Bourdieu’s theoretical tradition in understanding a transitional society. The fabric of the social structure is becoming increasingly clear but not clear enough yet, and the competition for cultural arbitrariness is becoming more fierce. What this means deserve further exploration.

 

References:

 Ball, S. J. (2003). Class strategies and the education market: The middle classes and social advantage. New York, London: Routledge.

Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. London, England: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241–258). New York, NY: Greenwood.

Bourdieu, P. (1988). Homo academicus. Cambridge, England: Polity Press. Bourdieu, P. (1989). The state nobility. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Chen, X. (2015). Who Has More Opportunities to Attend College?—An Empirical Study of the Strata Distribution of Different Qualities of Higher Education Opportunities in China. Chinese Education & Society, 48(3), 201-217. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/10611932.2015.1085769. doi:10.1080/10611932.2015.1085769

DiMaggio, P. (1982). Cultural capital and school success: The impact of status culture participation on the grades of U.S. high school students. American Sociological Review, 47, 189–201. doi:10.2307/2094962.

DiMaggio, P. (1997). Culture and cognition. Annual Review of Sociology, 23, 263–287.

DiMaggio, P. (2012). Sociological perspectives on the face-face enactment of class distinction. In S. T. Fiske & H. R. Markus (Eds.), Facing social class: How societal ranks influences interaction (pp. 15–38). New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

DiMaggio, P., & Mohr, J. (1985). Cultural capital, educational attainment, and martial selection. American Journal of Sociology, 90, 1231–1236. doi:10.1086/228209.

Lamont, M., & Lareau, A. (1988). Cultural capital: Allusions, gaps and glissandos in recent theoretical developments. Sociological Theory, 6, 153–168. doi:10.2307/202113

Lareau, A. (2000). Home advantage: Social class and parental intervention in elementary education. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. (Original work published 1989)

Lareau, A. (2002). Unequal childhoods: Class, race, and family life. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Postiglione, G. A. (2015). Education and social change in China: Inequality in a market economy. New York, London: Routledge.

Reay, Diane. (2017). Miseducation: Inequality, Education, and the Working Classes. Bristol: Policy Press.

Sintas, J., & Álvarez, E. (2002). Omnivores show up again: The segmentation of cultural consumers in Spanish social space. European Sociological Review, 18, 353–368. doi:10.1093/esr/18.3.353

Stuber, J. M. (2011). Inside the college gates: How class and culture matter in higher education. Lanham, MD:  Lexington Books.

Xie, A. (2015a). Inside the College Gate: Rural Students and Their Academic and Social Success. Chinese Education & Society, 48(2), 77-80. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10611932.2015.1040672. doi:10.1080/10611932.2015.1040672

Xie, A. (2015b). Toward a More Equal Admission? Access in the Mass Higher Education Era. Chinese Education & Society, 48(3), 157-162. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/10611932.2015.1095614. doi:10.1080/10611932.2015.1095614

Xie, A. (2016). Family strategies, guanxi, and school success in Rural China. New York, London: Routledge.

Xie, A., & Postiglione, G. A. (2016). Guanxi and school success: An ethnographic inquiry of parental involvement in rural China. British journal of sociology of education, 37(7), 1014-1033.

 

Author Bio

Dr. Xie Ailei is Associate Professor and the Associate Dean of the Bay Area Education Policy Institute for Social Development at Guangzhou University. His main areas of research are on higher education and social justice, and rural education development in China. His publications examine the academic and social success of rural students in China’s most elite universities (Peking University Education Review, 2018; Higher Education Research, Educational Research, 2016); the value of rural parents on schooling (Peking University Education Review, 2017); how guanxi structures rural parents’ choices of school participation (British Journal of Sociology of Education, 2016); and access to China’s higher education (Chinese Education & Society, 2015) . The current research project that he is leading is on the social and academic experience of rural students in China’s elite universities. He has also been involved in studies on access to higher education institutions by the rural and ethnic minorities in Gansu. Dr. Xie Ailei gained his Ph.D degree in sociology of education from the University of Hong Kong. He was an Assistant Professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University from the 2012 to 2013, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Hong Kong from 2014 to 2017, and was selected as a visiting fellow to Cambridge University in 2016. He can be reached at xieailei@gmail.com.

Dr. Xie Ailei currently serves as the associate editor of the journal Chinese Education & Society. He is also on the editorial advisory board of the Journal of Education Policy.