The Political Socialization of Adolescents

  • Anita Chan


As young people rose through the three years of junior high school and the three of senior high school, they came under ever increasing pressures to perform in an activist fashion. It was partly that the students, as they grew older, recognized that a good political record would be helpful in securing admission to the higher levels of education. But more than that, the top party leadership’s demands that students be activist were intensifying during the half decade from 1962 through 1966, precisely the period when this generation of students moved through adolescence.


Natural Redness Junior High School Senior High School Cultural Revolution Class Background 
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Notes and References

  1. 3.
    For details see Martin K. Whyte, Small Groups and Political Rituals in China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974) ch. 6.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    For other analyses of model emulation see Mary Sheridan, ‘The Emulation of Heroes’, China Quarterly, no. 33 (Jan-March 1968) 47–72; andGoogle Scholar
  3. Donald Munro, The Concept of Man in Contemporary China (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1977) ch. 6.Google Scholar
  4. 18.
    Self-cultivation, a traditional element of Confucian training, meant the remoulding and disciplining of one’s character through daily introspection. This practice of self-analysis was supposed to help adolescents attain a disciplined ‘consciousness’ (zijue) of themselves. They were to push themselves to master their own emotions and spontaneous urges and to impose stringent demands upon themselves. Liu Shaoqi’s book How to be a Good Communist (Peking: Foreign Language Press, 1951), which until the Cultural Revolution was regarded as the Communist Party members’ handbook, referred explicitly several times to self-cultivation and tempering as traditional practices in Confucianism (pp. 18–19, 23). (On these links, also see David S. Nivison, ‘Communist Ethics and Chinese Tradition’, Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 16, no. 1 (Nov 1956).) In Liu Shaoqi’s book, of which 12 million copies had been distributed to party members, the purposes and methods of self-cultivation and tempering were dealt with in great detail. Though the book was criticized vehemently in official publications during the Cultural Revolution, these criticisms derived from the fact that Liu Shaoqi himself was under attack; the criticisms did not seek to invalidate or negate the core of Liu Shaoqi’s premises, which were in line with the party’s continued conceptualization of self-cultivation. (For a lengthy official criticism of Liu’s book, see People’s Daily, 21 July 1971.)Google Scholar
  5. 22.
    See Ezra Vogel, ‘Preserving Order in the Cities’, in John Wilson Lewis (ed), The City in Communist China (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1971) p. 79.Google Scholar
  6. 28.
    Liu Shaoqi, ‘How to be a Good Communist’, in Collected Works of Liu Shao-chi: Before1944 (Hong Kong: Union Research Institute, 1969) pp. 250–3.Google Scholar
  7. 30.
    The ‘Four Cleanups’ referred to the cleaning up of accounts, granaries, properties and workpoints. For an analysis of the campaign, see Richard Baum and Frederick Teiwes, Ssu-Ching: The Socialist Education Movement of 1962–66 (Berkeley: Center for Chinese Studies, University of California, 1968); and Chan, Madsen and Unger, Chen Village, chs 2 and 3. The description given by Bai of the way the campaign was carried out in his workteam is in accord with the analyses of both books.Google Scholar
  8. 35.
    Kenneth Keniston, Young Radicals — Notes on Committed Youths (New York: Harvest Books, 1968) p. 78.Google Scholar
  9. 36.
    Ibid., pp. 78–81.Google Scholar
  10. 37.
    Li Rui, The Youthful Revolutionary Activities of Comrade Mao Zedong (in Chinese) (Peking: China Youth Press, 1957) pp. 33–6.Google Scholar
  11. 41.
    It was not accidental that the very first Red Guard group was formed by high-level cadre children at the most elitist high school in Peking. It was from this high school that the Red Guard movement spread to other parts of the city and country. See William Hinton, Hundred Day War: The Cultural Revolution in Tsinghua University (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1972) p. 63.Google Scholar
  12. 42.
    For a good description of the bad-class students see David Raddock, Political Behavior of Adolescents in China — The Cultural Revolution in Kwangchow (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1977).Google Scholar

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© Anita Chan 1985

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  • Anita Chan

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