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Navigating the Aspirational City

Urban Educational Culture and the Revolutionary Path to Socialism with Chinese Characteristics

Spotlight on China, Volume: 006
Buy now from Brill-Sense Publishers.

The re-emergence of China as a world power promises to be the signal economic, political, cultural, and social development of the 21st century. In the face of its rise, fine grained accounts of the shape and texture of this new China are both timely and necessary.

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Navigating the Aspirational City forwards a theory of contemporary Chinese urban educational culture that focusses on the influence of dominant conceptions of “the good citizen” and the material environment upon parents as they pursue their childrearing projects. The book provides a description of the beliefs and practices of urban Chinese parents as they “educate” their children. These beliefs and practices are placed in relation to a historical chain of ideas about how to best educate children, as well as within the urban context in which they are produced and reproduced, renovated, and transformed.

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Beginning with a history of revolutionary “orders of worth” culminating in the “aspirational cité,” the book details the shifting standards that define the “human capital” conditions of possibility of a developed modern economy. It goes on to describe a set of policies and practices known as san nian da bianyang by which the whole of one particular city, Shijiazhuang, has been demolished, re-built, and re-ordered.

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Contemporary China is, the author contends, no less revolutionary than Mao’s, noting that parents’ beliefs and practices articulate with the present ideational and material context to produce what appears, at times, to be radical transformation and, at others, remarkable stability.

Buy now from Brill-Sense Publishers.

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Wu Ping (吴平), vice president of Zhejiang University, was killed in an automobile accident in the city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province last Thursday, June 12.  China Radio International (CRI) didn’t give details of the accident in its news report published on the same day, but one day later, China Dailydescribed surveillance footage from the scene of the accident, Hangzhou Western Beltway, according to which, Wu almost missed the exit where he wanted to leave the beltway and head to the university. 

The footage, published on websites like sina.com, suggests that Wu Ping cut into a truck’s safety zone, long after the opportunity to leave the highway in accordance with the traffic regulations had passed.

China Daily quoted a colleague of Wu as saying that lack of sleep could be the cause of the accident – he was a diligent man who often worked very…

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Hogwarts of Asia: New Campus in China Channels Harry Potter – WSJ.

via Hogwarts of Asia: New Campus in China Channels Harry Potter – WSJ.

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Stunning Photos Of Chinas Insanely Stressful College Exam Process | Business Insider.

via Stunning Photos Of Chinas Insanely Stressful College Exam Process | Business Insider.

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The recommendations here are pretty mundane*: give peasants rights over land to encourage consolidation and innovation; reform hukou to give people equal social rights; make services more efficient. Points two and three are hard to argue with as principles. Point one, of course, is seriously debatable.

Maybe it’s this early Saturday morning talking, but I found this piece somewhat underwhelming. Thoughts:

First: Is this really all World Bankers have to offer? Reform a policy that divides your entire population into two classes (yes, more complicated than that) and consigns one to relative disadvantage? Why didn’t I think of that! Improve your public services? Hm?! Get the mayor of Beijing on the horn! It seems there is poor service at the motor vehicles office!

Second: the Chinese government has been all over these problems and solutions for years. There is nothing here that they don’t already know and apparently ascribe to. Of course planning and doing are two different things.

Anyway, have a look for yourself if you’re interested in pat solutions to deeply entrenched problems.

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/bert-hofman-highlights-the-institutional-reforms-needed-to-keep-migration-on-track-and-inequality-in-check

* In defense of mundane solutons, I offer them quite regularly myself!

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Good post by Mark developing a theme I’ve not paid careful attention to, although I’ve long been interested in Bourdieu’s conception of reflexivity. Have a read. There is a part 2 to go along with this post. Also, if you have time, watch all of the linked documentary.

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