Chinese adult higher education as a heterotopia

Guan, Shanshan and Blair, Erik ORCID: (2020) Chinese adult higher education as a heterotopia. Higher Education. ISSN 0018-1560

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Certain environments are ‘outside of all places, even though it may be possible to indicate their location in reality’ (Foucault 1986, p.24). Foucault calls such places ‘heterotopias’ and offers six principles to help define them. Here we propose that Chinese adult higher education is a heterotopic space. Chinese adult higher education exists alongside regular higher education and has been used by the Chinese government to fulfil various social and political roles during different historical phases but different policy problematisation over time has shaped AHE into a crisis heterotopia. Thus, as a Foucauldian heterotopia, Chinese adult higher education exists as a space in the interstices of power relations and dominant social structures – a position that, in the Chinese credential society, leaves those who enter this space feeling marginalised. Further, we propose that as nations expand their higher education systems, this diversification needs purposeful follow-up otherwise certain branches of higher education will fall to the whim of socio-cultural change.

Item Type: Article
Identifier: 10.1007/s10734-020-00552-z
Additional Information: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Higher Education. The final authenticated version is available online at: The article Chinese adult higher education as a heterotopia, written by Shanshan Guan and Erik Blair, was originally published electronically on the publisher’s internet portal (currently SpringerLink) on 05 May 2020 with open access. With the author(s)’ decision to step back from Open Choice, the copyright of the article changed on 02 July 2020 to © Springer Nature B.V. 2020 and the article is forthwith distributed under the terms of copyright.
Keywords: Foucault, Heterotopia, China, Adult higher education
Subjects: Education > Academic identity
Education > Higher education > HE pedagogies
Education > Higher education
Education > Teaching and learning
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Erik Blair
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2020 17:24
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2024 16:04


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