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This paper reviews Chinese- and English-language literature on ethnic minorities and education in China. Six major research topics emerge from the Chinese-language research: (1) Marxism and ethnic minority education; (2) patriotism and national unity in education for ethnic minority students; (3) multicultural education; (4) determinants of ethnic differences in education; (5) school facilities and teacher quality; and (6) preferential / affirmative action policies. Four research themes are identified from the English-language literature: (1) policy overviews; (2) education and ethnic identity; (3) incentives and disincentives for buy-in to the education system; and (4) educational stratification. The majority of quantitative research from both Chinese- and English-language literature investigates ethnic minorities as a collective group. Qualitative research focuses on individual ethnic groups, although no one group is the focus of particular attention. More qualitative studies currently exist, but the number of quantitative studies is growing, given the growing availability of survey and census data containing information on ethnic minorities. Both literatures focus on the complex interrelationships of ethnicity with cultural, policy, development, and language issues. Yet, these literatures draw on different ideological starting points, conform to different norms of academic composition, and speak to different audiences in different sociopolitical contexts. For these reasons, the English literature tends to adopt a more critical tone. Overall, very little of the work in either language comes from the field of sociology of education. More comparatively and theoretically framed work is needed to enable the Chinese experience to be informed by and inform global research in sociology of education.
sociology of education, ethnicity, China, minorities
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Date Posted: 04 June 2012
This document has been peer reviewed.