Double contradiction of schooling : class reproduction and working-class agency at vocational schools in China

Ngai PUN, Anita KOO*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Situating in the different social, political and cultural contexts of schooling in China, which is more embedded in mixed neoliberal value, authoritarian state control and collective morality, we use a somewhat different theoretical angle to understand the process of ‘learning to labour’ and the reproduction of working class at school and at work. Our study extends the horizon of Willis’ analysis of cultural reproduction at school by seriously analysing students’ work experiences through their internship at the site of production. Taking a sociological rather than cultural analysis approach, we re-conceptualize working-class agency embedded in a double contradiction of schooling as a site of contestation. This double contradiction is generated by conflicting experiences caused by inevitable conflicts among the three spheres of material production, social reproduction and cultural reproduction in educating ideal labour subjects to serve the state, market and family, providing fertile soil for re-negotiating working-class solidarity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-64
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number1
Early online date16 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

The work described in this paper was substantially supported by a grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (C5010-15G).


  • China
  • cultural reproduction
  • production
  • social reproduction
  • Vocational school
  • working-class culture


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