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Globalization and Multileveled Citizenship Education: A Tale of Two Chinese Cities, Hong Kong and Shanghai


by Wing-Wah Law & Ho Ming Ng — 2009

Background/Context: For centuries, the notions of citizenship and citizenship education have been associated with the nation-state and civic elements. However, since the late 20th century, these traditional notions have been challenged by globalization. In the discourse of globalization, citizenship, and citizenship education, some scholars suggest a simplistic replacement or shift from national citizenship to global citizenship, regional citizenship, or local and group identities. Against these simplistic, single-leveled approaches is the argument for both the continuing importance of nation-specific characteristics of citizenship and the strong need to diversify the nation-state-oriented and civic-specific framework to form multileveled and multidimensional ones. They accommodate individuals’ engagement in the various domains of human activities and their memberships at various levels, ranging from individual to community, local, national, and international or global ones. Some scholars have advocated a multidimensional model of citizenship education by regrouping human relationships and activities into four major dimensions—personal, social, spatial, and temporal—which can intersect with various levels in the multilevel polity. However, these general, static frameworks are not backed by strong empirical evidence and do not explain the complexity of interplay among different actors at the same level and/or between levels.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The purpose of the article is twofold. First, it aims to provide empirical evidence for the general framework of multileveled and multidimensional citizenship education by assessing students’ views of citizenship in a multileveled polity with reference to Hong Kong and Shanghai in China. Second, with the help of the comparative study, the article is intended to supplement the general framework by proposing a theoretical framework that explains the complex interplay of different actors in their choices of citizenship elements from a multileveled polity.

Setting: The study took place in three public junior secondary schools in Shanghai and three aided secondary schools in Hong Kong and assessed their students’ views of the global, national, local, and personal-social domains of multiple identities in a multileveled polity.

Research Design: The study adopted a mixed methodology of observations, questionnaires, and interview surveys to collect data.

Data Collection and Analysis: Data are drawn from questionnaires completed by 1,402 students attending Grades 7–9, and 38 interviews with principals, teachers, and students from both societies between 2002 and 2003.

Conclusions/Recommendations: The study shows that although students of Hong Kong and Shanghai were aware of having multiple citizenships, some of their views of the relative importance of, and the interrelationships among, four dimensions of citizenship differed. The patterns of their perceptions of multiple citizenships reflect similarities and differences in the organization of citizenship education between schools in Hong Kong and Shanghai, the nation-state’s influences on local citizenship curricula, and local governments’ development considerations in remaking collective identity. With the help of the comparative study, the article supplements the general framework by proposing a theoretical framework for interpreting citizenship and citizenship education as dynamic, context-bounded, and multileveled social constructions reinvented through the intertwined interactions of different actors in response to social changes, including globalization.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 111 Number 4, 2009, p. 851-892
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15202, Date Accessed: 12/15/2017 8:43:05 PM

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About the Author
  • Wing-Wah Law
    University of Hong Kong
    E-mail Author
    WING-WAH LAW is an associate professor in the Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong. His research interests include education and development, citizenship education, music education, higher education, and education reforms in Chinese societies. Recent publications include “Citizenship, Citizenship Education, and the State in China in a Global Age” in Cambridge Journal of Education (2006) and “Globalization, City Development and Citizenship Education in China’s Shanghai” in International Journal of Educational Development (2007).
  • Ho Ming Ng
    University of Hong Kong
    HO MING NG is the director of the Centre for Educational Leadership at the University of Hong Kong. His research interests include educational reform, teacher development and educational leadership in general, and such areas in the Chinese context in particular. Recent publications include “Thematic Study Tour as an Effective Means of Professional Development for Educational Leaders” in International Studies in Educational Administration (2005) and “An Analysis of Continuous Teacher Development in Hong Kong,” in Journal of Education Policy (2003).
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