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Sociology: People


Canglong Wang (王苍龙)

Canglong Wang (王苍龙)
Canglong Wang (王苍龙)
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, digital culture

*I successfully passed the doctoral viva with minor correction on 28th November 2018. (Internal examiner: Professor Graham Crow (University of Edinburgh). External examiner: Professor Mette Halskov Hansen (University of Oslo)). 

*I was awarded PhD on 14th December 2018. 

Thesis Abstract

This research explores the complexity of Confucian schooling in the context of post-Mao socialist China. Based on fieldwork in a Confucian-style classical school (given the pseudonym Yiqian School), the thesis reveals why parents choose Confucian education, how the school seeks to cultivate children as Confucian autonomous, learned individuals and what sense parents, students and teachers make of this schooling.  

Theoretically the thesis draws together three strands of scholarship—research on Chinese education and the rhetoric of suzhi/quality, the individualisation thesis as it applies to China, and governmentality and subjectification in the context of China. The study is ethnographic, drawing on participant observation and formal and informal interviews. Conducted in 2015, the fieldwork took place over six months in Yiqian School, a classical school with a student population spanning seven to 15 years. 

The research demonstrates the complexity of parents’ decisions to withdraw their children from state schools and in planning for their future education. These parents had contradictory dispositions towards the state school system: while many criticised compulsory schooling, at the same time they also recognised the importance of the state-defined educational track in awarding academic certificate. The parental desire for their children to receive Confucian classical education was deeply influenced by anxiety about morality and a belief that classical education would enhance children’s moral status. As most parents came from middle-class families, their stress on Confucian ethical virtue can be interpreted as an attempt to distinguish their children from other social groups through a Confucian-inspired distinction between good/bad manners, high/low qualities (suzhi), and superior/inferior civilities (wenming).

The thesis also explores the specific educational practices and techniques used in the Confucian school. While Yiqian School aimed to cultivate students as autonomous, learned individuals through the approach of “individualised memorisation,” this process is subjected to disciplinary power in two conflicting types of memorisation-based pedagogy, an individualistic and an authoritarian mode. This meant the subjectification of the students involved a contradiction between autonomy and coercion.

By showing how Confucian individuals are shaped within the education system, the thesis reveals what Confucian education tells us about the Chinese path to individualisation. The making of Confucian individuals in the school is not completely “dis-embedded” from the “traditional” categories such as family relations, the state school system and social class. The tension between parents and their children in planning for the latter’s future education indicates how strongly the Confucian youth pursue personal aspirations. Furthermore, while parents were free to take their children out of the state school system and choose Confucian education, they had to face the risks resulting from the ambiguous status of Confucian education, particularly the lack of certificate-granting powers and the marginalisation of the Confucian educational experience. 

Future Research

I am conceiving two ways to further my current research.

(1) The first theoretical approach is to draw upon the conceptual toolkit by Michel Foucault, in particular, technology of self, care of self, and ethical mode of self-government, and link them up with the empirical data of Confucian education in contemporary China. By this I aim to reveal what subjectivity and how subject-making are actualized through Confucian learning and teaching  in the modernity conditions in China.

(2) The second is concerning the shifted methodology for data collection. Besides doing fieldwork in "material" spaces, I am interested in expanding to digital media such as WeChat, which has been playing a vital part in rejuvenating Confucian education in contemporary China. 


2014-2018                       PhD Sociology, the University of Edinburgh

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

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 "the little dark one," given by my wife's supervisor Professor John Blenkinsopp. The profile picture which I entitle "Father and Son" shows the smiling faces of Yunhe and me in a pleasant dinner. 


Dr. Julie Brownlie

Dr. Sophia Woodman


(Expected in 2019) “Civic Virtues and Confucian Education in Contemporary China,” In Z. Guo ed. Handbook of Chinese Citizenship, London: Routledge Press. (In English) 

(Under review) "Educating the Cosmpolitan Citizen in Confucian Classical Education in Contemporary China." (In English) 

(2018) "Debatable ‘Chineseness’: Diversification of Confucian Classical Education in Contemporary China,” China Perspectives, no. 4, pp. 53-64. (In English)

(2018) “Dimensions of the Political and the Moral: A Framework of Comparaing Junzi and Citizens,” Sociological Review of China, vol.6, no. 3, pp. 25-38. (In Chinese)

(2018) “Civic Politics and Virtue Ethics: A Reivew of Progressive Confucianism,” In C. Tan, J. Ban and K. Lin ed. Citizenship Education Review, pp. 57-70, Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press. (In Chinese) 

(2018) “Civic Junzi or Noble Citizen: Relationship of Junzi and Citizen revisted,” Tian Fu New Idea, no. 1, pp. 52-61. (In Chinese) 

(2017) “Modern Sishu: Transformation, Legitimacy, and Policy)” Chinese Reference, no. 1. (In Chinese) 

(2016) “Individuality, Hierarchy, and Dilemma: The Making of Confucian Cultural Citizenship in a Contemporary Chinese Classical School,” Journal of Chinese Political Science, no. 21, pp. 435-52. (In English) 

(2016) “Exclusivity and Inclusivity: Two Orientations of Nationalism in Contemporary Chinese Confucian Studies,” Exploration and Contention, no. 7, pp. 61-5. (In Chinese)

(2016) “Citizenship: Implications, Changes, and Localization,” Journal of Public Administration, no. 3, pp. 177-84. (In Chinese) 

(2016) “Back to Moral Subject: Foucault and the Modern Values of Confucianism,” Tian Fu New Idea, no. 3, pp. 58-63. (In Chinese)

(2015) “Confucianism and Citizenship: A Review of Opposing Conceptualizations,” In Z. Guo & S. Guo ed. Theorizing Chinese Citizenship, pp. 49-82, New York: Lexington Books. (In English) 

(2015) “Becoming Confucian Citizens: The Making of Students’ Cultural Citizenship in Classical Education,” In M. Qian ed. Selected Works on Sociology of Education: Education and Modernity in Sociology, pp. 117-30, Beijing: People’s Daily Publishing Corporation. (In Chinese) 

(2015) “Junzi and Citizen: The Subject in Chinese Civilization,” Tian Fu New Idea, no. 6, pp. 48-54. (An academic talk with Z. Yao, Z. Guo & T. Guo). (In Chinese)

(2014) “The Making of Cultural Citizenship in Contemporary Chinese Classical Education,” In Z. Guo ed. Chinese Citizenship: Historical Development and Contemporary Practices, pp. 177-200, Shanghai: Gezhi Press. (In Chinese) 

(2012) “Women’s Body, State's Power: A Study on Chinese Miss Etiquette in International Games,” Collection of Women’s Studies, no. 6, pp. 65-9. (In Chinese) 

(2012) “A Study on the Friendship of the New Generation Migrant Workers,” Contemporary Youth Research, no. 5, pp. 57-63. (In Chinese) 

Working Articles Selected (All English) 

“Moral Anxiety, State Education, and Memorisation-based Pedagogy: Why Parents Have Their Children Learn Confucian Classics in China?” 

“Critical Individuals or Submissive Citizens? Parental ambivalence about state education in China.” 

“Digitalization of Confucian citizenship? Civic discourses in digital dujing domains.”

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

“Subjectification of Parental Citizens in Revival of Confucian Classical Education in Contemporary China.”

“Classics, Hierarchy, and Dilemma: Cultural Nationalism and Confucian Dujing Education in Contemporary China.”

Public Writings

“To Be Active Citizens: Dujing Education to Set out Again from Reflections,” In Confucian Website, 23/09/2017. (In Chinese)

“To Be Moral Humans, Depending on the Society or the Individual?” In Southern Weekly, 10/08/2017. (In Chinese) 

“(Paradoxes of the Two Principles in Contemporary Confucian Classical Education,” In Exploration and Contention WeChat Official Account, 24/09/2016. (In Chinese)

“Two Stages of the Debates in Contemporary Confucian Classical Schooling,” In Confucian Website, 03/09/2016. (In Chinese) 

Conferences and Presentations


Dec 03, “Core Issues of Chinese Citizenship Conference,” Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou.

Oct 26-27, “Postgraduate Chinese Studies Conference 2018,” University of Glasgow, Glasgow.

Oct 12-13, “CHEW Conference 2018,” University of Oxford, Oxford.

Sep 12-14, “BACS Annual Conference,” King’s College London, London. 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Nov 6, "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, "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, "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, "Eleventh Forum of Political Science for Chinese Young Scholars," South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China, paper accepted. 

May 3, 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, "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, "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, "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, "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, "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, "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, "Postgraduate Academic Conference of the University of Hull," the University of Hull, Hull, UK, proposal accepted. 

Jun 12-13, "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, "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 the 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

Awards and Funding

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. 


Academia personal profile:

I am running my personal Wechat public account named "燕居集" (search "canglongyanjuji"), where I share thoughts about academic research and ordinary life. Welcome all friends to subscribe it and leave your message online. My private WeChat account is "cangtianxinglong." 

My Twitter account is @honghugaoxiang

I love music (rock and roll, Chinese and Western classical), film (historical and realistic genres), football (a super fan of China's Shandong Luneng club), and cooking (Chinese and Western cuisine).