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9781509538317

Being Modern in China

Paperback by Paul Willis
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Product Description

This book analyses modernity and tradition in China today and how they combine in striking ways in the Chinese school. Paul Willis – the leading ethnographer and author of Learning to Labour – shows how China has undergone an internal migration not only of masses of workers but also of a mental and ideological kind to new cultural landscapes of meaning, which include worship of the glorified city, devotion to consumerism, and fixation upon the smartphone and the internet.

 Massive educational expansion has been a precondition for explosive economic growth and technical development, but at the same time the school provides a cultural stage for personal and collective experience. In its closed walls and the inescapability of its ‘scores’, an astonishing drama plays out between the new and the old, with a tapestry of intricate human meanings woven of small tragedies and triumphs, secret promises and felt betrayals, helping to produce not only exam results but cultural orientations and occupational destinies.

 By exploring the cultural dimension of everyday experience as it is lived out in the school, this book sheds new light on the enormous transformations that have swept through China and created the kind of society that it is today: a society that is obsessed with the future and at the same time structured by and in continuous dialogue with its past.

Product Details

Format: Paperback, 240 pages Language: English
Dimension: 22.61cm x 15.24cm x 1.78cm ISBN10: 1509538313
Weight: 318g ISBN13: 9781509538317
Publication Date: 04 Oct 2019 Publisher: Polity Press

Product Reviews

Review

‘Written in a lucid and witty style, Paul Willis’s book provides a uniquely penetrating lens to scrutinize the deeply held meanings and cultural nuances in China’s relentless pursuit of modernity. A landmark contribution to China studies as well as the sociology of education.

’Yunxiang Yan, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles, and author of The Individualization of Chinese Society ‘Paul Willis is a wonderful guide in surveying China’s jarring juxtapositions. His analysis of the ideological imbrication of communism, consumerism and Confucianism, and his close attention to the feelings of shame, stress and guilt experienced by the losers of China’s new rat race, are particularly insightful.

’Shehzad Nadeem, City University of New York“definitely worth reading”Michael W. Apple, Beijing Normal University"Experimenting to break the boundary between academic and popular writing, Willis’ account of his China experience, with its poetic and forceful prose, is a great pleasure to read."China Review International"Willis has produced a work which deserves the wide readership that he was aiming for."Journal of International and Comparative Education"The book is riveting and bristles with profound insights about contemporary China that leaves the reader in awe of Willis’s brilliant scholarship."American Journal of Sociology

About Author

Paul Willis is an ethnographer and cultural theorist and a founding editor of Ethnography.

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