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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Canglong Wang (王苍龙)

Canglong Wang (王苍龙)
Canglong Wang (王苍龙)
Sociology School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Research Interests
Chinese citizenship, Confucianism, National and cultural identity, Classical education in China, Schooling ethnography, Foucault, self-moralisation, Individualisation of Chinese society, governmentality in China

PhD Title

The Rise of Confucian Individual: Suzhi/Quality, Moral, and Confucian Schooling in China

What's My PhD thesis about? 

In the thesis, I write a story about one boarding Confucian classical school in the background of the individualization in contemporary Chinese society. My research aims to explore how the profound processes of individualization in contemporary Chinese society are shaping the educational practices and discourses in this concrete Confucian classical school, one of those that have been reviving after one century-long disappearance in Mainland China. I also examine how the individualizing processes influence the desires for Confucian education and individual lives of students, parents, and teachers involved in the Confucian classical education. 

The thesis is divided into three chapters. In the first chapter,  I write on the topic of how the desire for Confucian education is generated, in other words how and why individual citizens ‘choose’ Confucian classical education in the social, cultural, and political circumstances remarkably framed by the profound processes of individualization in Chinese society. The processes of individualization in contemporary Chinese society generate explicit and strong dynamics to empower individual citizens (mainly parents but with some elder students as well) to straightforwardly cast doubt on the taken-for-granted legitimacy of the state-maintained education system or in terms of the people, inside-system education (tizhi nei jiaoyu), and to take actions to ‘dis-embed’ from both state schools and families to study Confucian classics in the full-time boarding Confucian school. The individualized actors produce and employ the discourse of quality (suzhi) to denounce the ‘immorality’ of the inside-system schools and to praise the ‘moral’ Confucian schooling, the term ‘moral’ here specifically referring to autonomous personhood and appropriate comportment. 

In the second chapter, the individualization in Chinese society also deeply influences and shapes the governing practices and techniques inside the Confucian school, but with something more complicated. Unlike the authoritarian stereotype of Confucian education that has lasted for a century in modern Chinese history, the contemporary Confucian school turns to embrace individualized practices of governing (teaching and learning) but finds the root in the traditional Confucian educative principle yincai shijiao (to suit the teaching to the ability of the pupils). In the sense, the Confucian school is committed to govern students by cultivating self-oriented qualities such as learning autonomy, learning for one’s own sake, self-control, and self-regulation. As I argue, the individualized practices in the Confucian school must be understood from two sides. On the one side, it is part of the broader individualization of Chinese society. On the other side, we cannot ignore the ideas for individualization of oneself contained in the Confucian education thought. It is the conjunction of the individualized social dynamic and the individual-oriented thoughts in Confucian education that promote the making of the individual citizens in the Confucian school. However, the Confucian school retains the authoritarian practices to govern students, which is fundamentally framed by the nationalistic urgency ideology (which is manifested for example, to govern students to memorize as many Confucian classics as they can in an as early age as possible for the direct purpose of cultivating great cultural talents (wenhua dacai) for Confucian cultural resurgence). 

In the third and last chapter, I write how the processes of individualization in contemporary Chinese society play a crucial role in influencing students’ educational status and their (along with parents) planning for future studies. I argue that the students and their parents at the Confucian School are caught in a deep dilemma in an individualizing Chinese society: on the one hand, they are free to break from the state-maintained education system, to leave the mainstream schooling, and to choose Confucian education on their own; on the other hand, due to the awkwardness of education status, diploma and education promotion, for the students, whether they continue classics reading (which means to continue the road of marginalization) or return to mainstream schools (which can be regarded as a practice of anti-marginalization), they have to face alone the risks as individuals and to bear the responsibilities by themselves. In the end, they have to rely upon their families to pursue way-outs for further studies, which in other words, they have to ‘re-embed’ into the ‘traditional’ social category of family where they ‘dis-embed’ (Yan, 2009). In a word, freedom or risks, the dilemma showcases the paradoxes of the individualization in today’s Chinese society.

In my future research, I am going to further explore the theme 'reading Confucian classices as an act of citizenship', empirically and theoretically. 


2014-2018 (Expected) PhD candidate Sociology, the University of Edinburgh, UK

2013-2014                       PhD student Sociology (1st year), the University of Hull, UK

2010-2013                        MA Sociology, Xiamen University, China

2006-2010                        BA Social Work, Southwest University, China

I interrupted my PhD study for one year (from Feb 1st 2016-Jan 31st 2017) in order to accompany my wife who went back to  gave birth to our first baby. His Chinese name is Yunhe Wang (王允赫) given by myself, wherein the Chinese character "允" represents the Confucian golden principle of "being moderate," and the Chinese character "赫" is the Chinese translation of the England city Hull where my wife and I met and fell in love. My son also has an English name Kieran, meaning "little dark one," given by my wife's supervisor Professor John Blenkisop. The profile picture which I name "Father and Son" shows the smiling faces of Yunhe and me. 


Dr. Julie Brownlie

Dr. Sophia Woodman


(Accepted) “Political and  Moral Dimensions: A Comparative Framework for Junzi and Citizens.” Sociological Review of China. (In Chinese) 

(Forthcoming) “Civic Politics and Virtue Ethics: Review on Progressive Confucianism.” In Citizenship Education Review (In Chinese)

(Forthcoming) “The Cultivation of Civic Virtues in Confucian Classical Education in Contemporary China.” In Handbook of Chinese Citizenship. (In English)

(2018) "Civic Junzi or Noble Citizen: Relationship of Junzi and Citizen Revisted." Tian Fu New Idea (1)(In Chinese) (

(2017) “Modern Sishu: Transformation, Legitimacy, and Policy.” Chinese Reference (01). (In Chinese)

(2016) "Individuality, Hierarchy, and Dilemma: The Making of Confucian Cultural Citizenship in a Contemporary Chinese Classical School." Journal of Chinese Political Science (21). (In English)(

(2016) "Exclusivity and Inclusivity: Two Orientations of Nationalism in Contemporary Chinese Confucian Studies." Exploration and Contention (7). (In Chinese) (

(2016) "Citizenship: Implications, Changes, and Localization: Review on The Core Issues of Citizenship." Journal of Public Administration (3). (Reprinted in B. Xiao & Z. Guo ed. Citizenship Studies (Volume 2). Shanghai: Gezhi Press.) (In Chinese) (

(2016) "Back to Moral Subjectivity: Foucault and the Modern Values of Confucianism." Tian Fu New Idea (3). (In Chinese)(

(2015) "Confucianism and Citizenship: A Review of Opposing Conceptualizations." In Z. Guo & S. Guo ed. Theorizing Chinese Citizenship. New York: Lexington Books. (In English) ( (Chinese version reprinted in B. Xiao & Z. Guo ed. Citizenship Studies (Volume 1). Shanghai: Gezhi Press.)

(2015) "Becoming Confucian Citizens: Students’ Cultural Citizenship in Classical Education." In M. Qian ed. Monographs on Educational Sociology: Education and Modernity in Sociology. Beijing: People’s Daily Publishing Corporation. (In Chinese) 

(2015) "Junzi and Citizen: The Subject in Chinese Civilization." (with Yao, Zhongqiu, Guo, Zhonghua, and Guo, Taihui) Tian Fu New Idea (6). (In Chinese) (

(2014) “The Making of Cultural Citizenship in Contemporary Chinese Classical Education.” In Z. Guo ed. Chinese Citizenship: Historical Development and Contemporary Practices. Shanghai: Gezhi Press. (In Chinese) (

(2012) “Women’s Bodies and State's Power Gaze: A Study on Miss Etiquette in International Games.” Collection of Women’s Studies (6). (In Chinese) (

(2012) “A Study on the Friendship of the New Generation Migrant Workers.” Contemporary Youth Research (5). (In Chinese)(

Articles in Revision & Resubmission

“Debatable ‘Chineseness’: Discourses in the Reviving Confucian Dujing Education in Contemporary China.” (In English)

Articles in Working

“Moral hierarchy, institutional boundary, and civic dilemma: Exploring the emergence of Confucian cultural citizenship.” (In English) 

"Subjectification of Parental Citizens in Revival of Confucian Classical Education in Contemporary China." (In English) 

“Classics, Hierarchy, and Dilemma: Chinese Culturalism and Dujing Education in Contemporary China.” (In Chinese) 

Online Publications

“To Be Active Citizens: Dujing Eduction to Set out Again from Reflections ." In Confucian Web, 2017-09-23. (In Chinese) (

“To Be Moral Humans: Dependening on the Society or the Individual?" In Southern Weekly, 2017-08-10. (In Chinese) (

"Paradoxes of the Two Principles in Contemporary Confucian Classical Education." In Exploration and Contention, 2016-09-24. (In Chinese)(

"Two Stages of the Debates in Contemporary Confucian Classical Schooling." In Confucian Web, 2016-09-03. (In Chinese)(

Conferences and Presentations

Jun 21-22 2018, "BPCS 2018 Annual Conference: Heterogenous and Homogenous China," The University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, invited presenter. 

Jun 14-15 2018, "CERA 2018 Conference: Chinese Education in Global Context," IOE-UCL, London, UK, invited presenter. 

May 26-27 2018, "Governance in Development Conference," Peking University, Beijing, China, invited presenter. 

Sep 27-28 2017, "Early Researchers Forum of The 8th Session of the World Confucian Conference," Qufu, Shandong, Province, China, invited presenter. 

Sep 20-21 2017, "The 8th Session of the World Confucian Conference," Qufu, Shandong Province, China, invited presenter. 

Jul 15-16 2017, “2017 Annual Conference of the Chinese Sociology Association,” Shanghai University, Shanghai, China, invited presenter.

Jun 14-15 2017 “2017 BPCS Annual Conference,” The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK, invited presenter. 

Nov 6 2016 "First Confucian Forum for PhDs: Confucianism, Classical Scholarism, and Interpretations," Fudan University, Shanghai, China, presentation title "Classics, Hierarchy, and Dilemma: Chinese Culturalism and Dujing Education in Contemporary China."(

Sep 24 2016 "Workshop on 'Practicing Citizenship in China'," Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China, presentation title "Classics, Hierarchy, and Dilemma: Chinese Culturalism and Dujing Education in Contemporary China."

Jul 5-6 2016 "New European Research on Contemporary China Conference," French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC) and Sino-French Academic Centre (CFC, Tsinghua University), Beijing, China, presentation title "Debatable Chineseness: The Revival of Confucian Dujing Education in Contemporary China." 

May 14-15 2016 "Eleventh Forum of Political Science for Chinese Young Scholars," South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China, paper accepted. 

May 3 2016 East China Normal University, Shanghai, China, invited presentation "Individuality, Hierarchy, and Dilemma: The Making of Confucian Cultural Citizenship in a Contemporary Chinese Classical School."

Apr 29-30 2016 "Workshop on 'Theories and Practices of Citizenship'," Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China, presentation title "Individuality, Hierarchy, and Dilemma: The Making of Confucian Cultural Citizenship in a Contemporary Chinese Classical School."

Nov 27-28 2015 "International Conference on 'World Values of Chinese Culture'," Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China, presentation title "Subjectification of Parental Citizens in Revival of Confucian Classical Education in Contemporary China."

Apr 17 2015 "Academic Talk on 'Junzi and Citizen'," with Zhongqiu Yao, Zhonghua Guo, and Taihui Guo, Wan Mu Cao Tang, Guangzhou, China, title of speaking "Compatibility of Junzi and Citizen in Reflective Modernity."

Apr 11 2015 "Workshop on 'Citizenship between the East and the West'," Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China, presentation title "Confucianism and Citizenship: A Review of Opposing Conceptualizations."(

Nov 15 2014 "Academic Forum for PhDs on 'Modern State Governance from Chinese and Western Perspectives'," Peking University, Beijing, China, paper accepted "Governmentalisation of the State, Cultural Citizenship, and the Resurgence of Communities."

Jun 25-27 2014 "Workshop and Postgraduate Summer School on 'Political Community'," Aberdeen University, Aberdeen, UK, presentation title "Bodily Cultivation and Cultural Citizenship in Constructing the Confucian Community: The Revival of Classical Education in Contemporary China."

Jun 23 2014 "Postgraduate Academic Conference of the University of Hull," the University of Hull, Hull, UK, proposal accepted. 

Jun 12-13 2014 "New Directions of Chinese Education Studies: CERA Annual Conference in IOE," Institute of Education UCL, London, UK, presentation title "Recovering the Confucian Community by Cultivating the Body: The Revival of Classical Education in Contemporary China."

Jun 13-15 2013 "Citizenship in the Oriental Societies," Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China, presentation title "The Making of Cultural Citizenship in Contemporary Chinese Classical Education."

Published Reports

(2016) (with Wang, Zeyu) "Cooperation and Inter-discipline: Keywords in Building First-class Subjects and Universities in UK." Shanghai Education (8). (In Chinese)

(2015) (with Lu, Yao, Chen, Xi, and Jin, Tinghe) "Policies of International Students in UK." World Education Information (7). (In Chinese)

(2015) (with Kuang, Jianjiang and Shen, Yang) "Reform in Supervision system in UK." World Education Information (6). (In Chinese)

Professional Training

Jun 12-21 2016 "Advanced Research Training Workshop: From Empirical Research to Theorization: Contributions of the Study of China to Political Science and Political Theory," Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China. 

Jul 20-31 2015 "First Summer School of Educational Sociology in Peking University," Peking University, Beijing, China, presentation titled "Debatable Chineseness: The Reflexive Reconstruction of the Dao of Confucian Education in Contemporary China."

Jul 17-19 2013 "Third Workshop of Chinese Political Sociology: Revolution and Transformation in Modern China." Renmin University of China, Beijing, China. 

Jul 8 - Aug 13 2011 "Summer School of Empirical Social Science Methodology." Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China. 

Professional Experience

2017-2018                       Peer reviewer for Cultural and Religious Studies

2016-present                 Academic committee for Citizenship Studies (Chinese)

01-05/2014                     Research Assistant (Global Slavery Index editing, the

                                            University of Hull)

09/2011-01/2012          Teaching Assistant (Sociology Introduction, Xiamen  


11/2009-07/2010          Research Assistant (China National Project Studies on

                                               the Changes, Dilemmas and Rebuilding of Chinese Rural

                                                Ethics in Recent 30 Years, Southwest University)


British Sociological Association

British Association for Chinese Studies

British Postgraduate Network for Chinese Studies

Scottish Centre for China Research Postgraduate Network

Honors and Awards

2013-17    Funded by China Council Scholarship for PhD study

07/2016    Postgraduate Conference Subsidy, French Centre for Research on

                    Contemporary China (CEFC)

2015-16    PhD Conference/Fieldwork Funding, the University of Edinburgh

2014-15    PhD Conference/Fieldwork Funding, the University of Edinburgh

06/2014    Postgraduate Conference Scholarship, the University of Aberdeen

2013-14    Postgraduate Conference Funding, the University of Hull

12/2012    Postgraduate National Scholarship, China Ministry of Education

10/2012    First Class Scholarship, Xiamen University

06/2010    First Prize in Bachelor’s Degree Thesis Competition, SWU

04/2010    Outstanding University Graduate Award, SWU

11/2008    Undergraduate National Scholarship, China Ministry of Education

11/2007    Undergraduate National Scholarship, China Ministry of Education

International Network

 I am a member of an international network of Chinese and Western scholars focusing on the issue of citizenship in China, based at the School of Government, Sun-Yat Sen University in Guangzhou. I establish close academic relationship with the scholars of the citizenship studies cluster, and have published as well as will publish more through its platform. 


Language Proficiency

Chinese: Native Speaker; Professional Writer; Published Peer-Reviewed Articles.

English: Fluent; Professional Writer; Published Peer-Reviewed Articles. 


I look forward to hearing from anyone who share the similar research interests with me.