China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - College Socialization and Political Attitudes of Chinese Students

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Roosevelt Room 1, Exhibit Level

College education provides a formative experience in shaping students’ political attitude and behavior. While it has been extensively documented in democracies that college has a liberalizing effect on students’ ideology, evidence is less clear in the case of China, especially given the heavy presence of the Chinese Communist Party and the Youth League on campus. In this paper, I examine whether different colleges shape students’ attitude and behavior differently, and investigate the possible sources for this heterogeneity. Using panel data from a Beijing college student survey between 2009 and 2013, I employ multilevel analysis to explore how school-level factors influence students through the process of socialization. In particular, I am interested to examine what causes the variation in students’ political participation in both formal institutions (such as CCP membership and voting) and informal channels (such as NGO and demonstrations), as well as their attitude towards the regime, perception of their political efficacy, and opinion on socioeconomic issues. Possible school-level determinants include college leadership, counselor-student ratio, and student population composition in terms of their academic majors, family background, and income. I show that, while controlling for individual-level characteristics, campus experience has a distinct and significant impact on shaping students’ attitude vis-à-vis the regime.

Hanzhang Liu

Columbia University, New York

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