A County of Culture

Twentieth-Century China Seen from the Village Schools of Zouping, Shandong
Stig Thogersen
An analysis of educational reforms in modern China and their impact on rural inhabitants


A County of Culture provides a detailed analysis of education reforms in twentieth-century rural China, and of how these reforms relate to larger processes of social, political, and economic transformation. Based on documents and life histories collected in Zouping, the book focuses on education as an indicator of the changing relations between state and rural society; as a crucial feature in local economic life; and as a decisive factor in individual careers and destinies.

A County of Culture demonstrates how changes in educational policies have exerted considerable influence on social life in Zouping, from the macro level of nation building and state formation to the micro level of individual careers. It also shows that the rural population has been far from being a passive object of reform, and that it has been extremely difficult for educational reformers to achieve their goals as a result of the social, economic, and mental realities of China's villages. The fate of educational reforms has thus been decided in the tension between two poles: the visions of educational planners and reformers on the one hand, and the expectations of the rural population on the other.

Not only pertinent to specialists of Chinese education, this book will also be useful to anyone interested in state-society relations in modern China and to students of comparative education and rural development.

Stig Thøgersen is Associate Professor of Chinese Language and Society, University of Aarhus.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . empirically rich and analytically engaging. . . . Thoegersen's exploration of the intertwining of cultural, socio-economic and political themes across the 20th century is made all the more compelling through his use of lively biographies and vignettes. These remind the reader that inspired individuals can powerfully influence educational policies, and that these shape the lives of real human beings, affecting their ideas about who they are long after they leave school. This is an original, detailed and lucid book. Undergraduates will welcome its inclusion on reading lists while researchers will relish the stimulating ideas and information."
    ---Rachel Murphy, China Quarterly
  • ". . . a thoughtful project with some potential significance for the debates about writing history. . . . The book is well documented and smoothly written, worthwhile reading for those who are interested in the question of education and its relationship to the making of modern China."
    ---Pacific Affairs

Look Inside

Copyright © 2002, University of Michigan. All rights reserved. Posted April 2005.

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Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 320pp.
  • 10 photographs, 1 map.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2002
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11283-8

Add to Cart
  • $94.95 U.S.