Governing Technologies: Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Education, and Political Power in China

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceedingpeer-review


Information and Communication Technologies for education (ICT4E) have been playing an increasingly important role in schooling and training worldwide. On the one hand, they are expected to bridge various divides e.g. between developed and developing countries, urban and rural regions, affluent and poor neighborhoods etc., by spreading the most up-to-date knowledge and skills into every classroom on the globe. On the other hand, ICT4E are considered appropriate and promising tools to promote self-directed, motivated, adaptive, resource-enriched, and technology-embedded learning (in short: SMART learning) – characteristics that are typically deemed crucial for education in the 21st century.

While the merits and lofty goals of ICT4E are continuously highlighted within educational research on the use of these technologies, there is surprisingly little attention to how these technologies are embedded into sociocultural and political environments, once they become designed within national contexts and implemented within local schooling contexts.

My presentation breaks with the assumption that the use of certain kinds of ICT automatically triggers a specific kind of development (such as creating the self-directed learner). By using a framework originated from Science and Technology Studies (STS), I look into the processes of conceptualizing, implementing and embedding ICT policies in the People's Republic of China. In China, the interaction of ICT and education takes place at two levels: on one side, local political leaders are trained and streamlined into using ICT when communicating with and governing the populace; on the other side, a variety of regulations, guidelines and other policy documents is to ensure a smooth and politically desirable socialization of youth into ICT. At the same time, ICT are used to better understand and control learning outcomes, including those resulting from political learning.

The presentation will draw on first findings from my research project that deals with the political complexities of ICT and education in China. It is part of a larger, interdisciplinary research project on Chinese digital society funded by the Swedish Research Council between 2013 and 2017 (for more information see The data for this study are retrieved from Chinese policy documents and research literature by Chinese ICT4E scholars, as well as from first interviews (with political cadres, school principals, and teachers) and observations from the classroom.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventXXVI Conference of the Comparative Education Society in Europe - Freiburg
Duration: 2014 Jun 11 → …


ConferenceXXVI Conference of the Comparative Education Society in Europe
Period2014/06/11 → …

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Educational Sciences

Free keywords

  • ICT
  • education
  • politics
  • China


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