International Journal of Taiwan Studies

Call for Papers: Education and Society in Contemporary Taiwan

Download the call for papers here.

Guest Editors: Professor Edward Vickers (Kyushu University) and Dr Lin Tzu-bin (National Taiwan Normal University)

Education was widely seen as a crucial ingredient in the formula for the ‘economic miracle’ in post-war Taiwan. As in Korea and Japan, a comprehensive and relatively egalitarian system for provision of public compulsory schooling helped underpin a pattern of rapid development with high levels of social mobility, at least until the 1980s. But the concomitant of this relative uniformity was a high degree of regimentation associated with the attempt to sustain a homogenous and totalizing vision of national identity premised on Taiwan’s ‘Chineseness’.

Taiwan’s transition to a prosperous, democratic, predominantly middle-class society has been accompanied by growing impatience in many quarters with this uniform, and uniformly Chinese, approach to education. At the same time,slowing economic growth, declining social mobility and entrenched credentialism have boosted demand for greater ‘choice’ within the public system, as well as for private schooling and examination-preparatory ‘shadow education’. There have been louder calls for diversity in both forms of educational provision and curricular content. The appeal of diversity and choice as slogans of educational reform is further enhanced for many by the desire to reposition Taiwan as a ‘multicultural’ Asian society rather than an exclusively Chinese one.

As in other prosperous ‘developed’ societies, higher education has meanwhile become a middle-class rite of passage, with the costs of diploma inflation borne mostly by families rather than the state. The capacity of the economy to generate graduate-level employment for the burgeoning graduate workforce has been increasingly strained, fueling youth discontent and causing some to seek opportunities overseas or on the Chinese mainland – even while low-skilled positions are increasingly filled by immigrants from Southeast Asia. Politicians and businessmen, for their part, still look to universities to provide an injection of ‘innovation’ to restore the economic magic of the ‘miracle’ decades.

Superficially, then, much has changed in Taiwan’s ‘post-miracle’ educational landscape – in ways that mirror the broader socio-economic and political changes of the past forty years. Below the surface, though, how deep do these changes run? To what extent has the strongly instrumentalist orientation of the system towards generation of ‘human capital’ been moderated by broader conceptions of education’s goals? What influence have global trends towards marketization, metrics, ‘accountability’ and the other paraphernalia of neoliberal ‘new public management’ had over policy in the educational sphere? How far has the ideology of meritocracy and welfare minimalism that underpinned dominant attitudes to education during the high growth era been challenged or transformed in a context of lower growth and declining social mobility? And has the role of schooling in political socialization, and underlying assumptions concerning the meaning of national citizenship (under a ‘Chinese’ or ‘Taiwanese’ label), been fundamentally altered?

These are amongst the issues that this topical section seeks to address. The editors are keen to solicit manuscripts that analyze the relationship of educational policies, practices or institutions with contemporary Taiwan’s broader social and political context. Contributions that examine technical aspects of educational practice are not appropriate for this journal. Papers that adopt a comparative or historical perspective are particularly welcome.

Those interested in contributing should send an abstract of around 350 words to the guest editors by the date indicated below. Please send the abstracts to Dr. Lin Tzu-bin at this address: tzubin_lin@ntnu.edu.tw

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 22 / 04 / 2019

Deadline for submission of draft manuscripts (for those shortlisted for inclusion in the topical section): 31 / 08 / 2019