This article explores three core elements of citizenship–right, responsibility, and act–and their implications for the rise of Confucian activists in the revival of Confucian education in present-day China. Adopting an empirical research approach, the author draws from two sets of resources: public speeches by a leader in contemporary Confucian classical education, and interviews with teachers and parents at a Confucian school. A critical discourse analysis of the data is conducted to examine the emerging themes. First, the study identifies the widespread circulation of the discourse of right (quanli) to education within the field of Confucian education. Second, focusing on the emerging discourse of righteousness (yi), it reveals how this particular Confucian ideology, articulated through local terminologies, generates a sense of civic responsibility and obligation. Third, it investigates the Confucian idea of “extending innate knowledge” (zhi liangzhi) and its contribution to the conversion of internal, individual ethical reflection to creative, civic acts. Based on the findings, this study challenges the popular characterisation of Confucianism as a contradiction to citizenship. The revival of Confucian education offers an opportunity to explore a more nuanced understanding of the effects of Confucianism on the formation of the “Confucian citizen”.
Wang, C. (2022). Right, righteousness, and act: why should Confucian activists be regarded as citizens in the revival of Confucian education in contemporary China?. Citizenship Studies, https://doi.org/10.1080/13621025.2022.2042674