Civilising Citizens in Post-Mao China: Understanding the Rhetoric of Suzhi, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Civilising Citizens in Post-Mao China

Understanding the Rhetoric of Suzhi, 1st Edition

By Delia Lin


189 pages | 24 B/W Illus.

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Political discourse in contemporary China is intimately linked to the patriotic reverie of restoring China as a great civilisation, a dream of reformers since the beginning of the twentieth century. The concept and use of suzhi – a term that denotes the idea of cultivating a ‘quality’ citizenship – is central to this programme of rejuvenation, and is enjoying a revival. This book therefore offers an accessible and comprehensive analysis of suzhi, investigating the underlying cultural, philosophical and psychological foundations that propel the suzhi discourse. Using a new method to analyse Chinese governance – one that is both historical and discursive in approach – the book demonstrates how suzhi has been made into a political resource by the Chinese Communist Party-State, journeying from Confucianism to socialism. Ultimately, it asks the question: if we cannot rely on Western models of governance to explain how China is governed, what method of analysis can we use? Making use of over 200 Chinese-language primary sources, the book highlights the link between suzhi and similar discourses in post-Mao China, including those centring on notions of ‘civilisation’, ‘harmonious society’ and the 'China dream'.

As the first book to provide an in-depth study of suzhi and its relevance in Chinese society, Civilising Citizens in Post-Mao China will be useful for students and scholars of Chinese studies, Chinese politics and sociology.

Table of Contents


A Note on Translation and Transliteration

List of Tables and Figures

1 Introduction

2 The Confucian Legacy of Suzhi

3 The Paradigm of Suzhi: Transformational Citizenship

4 Manufacturing Suzhi: from Mini to Mighty

5 The Wenming-Suzhi-Hexie-Zhongguo Meng Continuum: the Process of Pan-politicisation

6 Suzhi Jiaoyu: a Word that Succeeds and a Policy that Fails

7 Conclusion

Appendix: Research Design for Chapter 4


About the Author

Delia Lin lectures at the School of Social Sciences at the University of Adelaide, Australia. Her research interests include political thought, governance, ideology and discourse.

About the Series

Routledge Contemporary China Series

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Civics & Citizenship
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies