Journal of Chinese Political Science

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 15–34 | Cite as

Interpreting the Chinese Dream: An Exercise of Political Hermeneutics

  • Josef Gregory MahoneyEmail author
Research Article


Using an approach described as political hermeneutics, this paper interprets the Chinese Dream as a discourse that is historically and politically situated and contextualized within a number of other ongoing narratives and policies in China. This approach is especially apt because, in many respects, the purpose of the Chinese Dream is to round out while also reframe and reemphasize the Party’s longstanding vision of Chinese political and economic development, and to do so ahead of difficult reforms and transitions. Thus, we show how the Chinese Dream should be understood as being a part of a larger historical discourse and pressing needs for change. Consequently, we assemble and discuss the broader narratives that surround and suffuse the Chinese Dream and illustrate how it aims to function as a metanarrative—one that attempts a discursive “reset” under a new leader. As a positive discourse, the Chinese Dream aims to express official visions of the past, present and future; but it must also be understood as part of a web of activities designed to advance Party interests and the various challenges these face. Accordingly, we interpret the Chinese Dream in tandem with discussions of other recent developments, including what appears to be a national rectification campaign as Xi Jinping continues to consolidate power, curtail Party factions and corruption, discipline critics, and prepare the Party and nation for some measure of reform and, likely, some measure of more of the same.


Chinese Dream Chinese Political Thought Political Hermeneutics Metanarrative 


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Copyright information

© Journal of Chinese Political Science/Association of Chinese Political Studies 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.East China Normal UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China

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