Between Ideals and Reality: The Working Class‘s Role in China’s Education Revolution

Visiting Scholar Talks

Dec 11, 2023 | 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Common Room (#136), 2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA,


Zhe HOU | Assistant Professor, Institute of China Studies, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences; HYI Visiting Scholar, 2023-24


Elizabeth Perry | Henry Rosovsky Professor of Government, Harvard University; Director, Harvard-Yenching Institute

Co-sponsored with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

The assertion that “the working class must lead everything” was a fundamental tenet in the ideological framework of the education revolution during Mao’s era in China. This principle, along with the beliefs that “education serves proletarian politics” and “education should be combined with productive labor”, underscored the legitimacy and importance of the working class in this transformative period. This talk aims to delve into the multifaceted role of the working class in shaping the educational landscape during this revolution. It will explore the instrumental role of the Workers’ Mao Zedong Thought Propaganda Teams within the educational systems and the impact of the School Revolutionary Committees within educational institutions. Furthermore, it will examine the implementation and outcomes of labor education across various types of schools during this era. By doing so, this discussion seeks to illuminate the complex interplay between class, politics, and education within the context of China’s historical and socio-political fabric.

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