Politically intended vulnerabilities: Chinese youth as target of ICT policies in education

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceeding


Official policies, academic discussions and public debates frequently address the potential risks and dangers of the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) among children and youth. At the same time, however, digital policies in education create themselves new vulnerabilities for school children and youth that often go unnoticed as they occur within politically desired frameworks. This becomes particularly apparent in the Chinese case, where student users of ICT are envisioned as 'transparent subjects' whose 'brains and hearts' can be reached and occupied by the help of new technologies.

The paper will discuss the political and moral-ideological ramifications of the 'digital student' in a society that is both subscribing to an authoritarian-framed governance and embracing new technologies. Drawing both on a critical analysis of policy/academic documents and on first results from fieldwork conducted in Beijing in 2014, I will argue that the use of ICT in seemingly unpolitical environments is deeply political, as it is intermeshed with underlying conceptions about what constitutes useful learners, healthy youth and ideal citizens. The Chinese case thus presents an example of how on the surface value-neutral technologies in education become politicized once they enter local contexts, with far-reaching consequences for children and youth who are to be socialized into these contexts.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Educational Sciences


  • vulnerabilities, China, digital technologies, youth, political control, educational policies
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch
EventJournal of Youth Studies Conference: Contemporary Youth, Contemporary Risk - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 2015 Mar 302015 Apr 1


ConferenceJournal of Youth Studies Conference: Contemporary Youth, Contemporary Risk

Related projects

Marina Svensson, Barbara Schulte, Annika Pissin, Tommy Shih & Stefan Brehm

Swedish Research Council


Project: Research

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