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Chinese Citizens’ Activities Past and Present: Continuity and Change in Civic Engagement

Tuesday, August 12, 2014  
Posted by: ISTR Research
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Chinese Citizens’ Activities Past and Present: Continuity and Change in Civic Engagement


Since the caesura in 1989, a sharp increase in civic activities all over the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has taken place. Civic engagement draws on historical experiences and predecessors while at the same time developing fresh modes of mobilization and engagement and employing innovative strategies to further its causes. The increased formation of citizens and the emergence of a flourishing civil society indicate a new level of civic engagement in China.


This issue takes a critical look at Chinese citizens’ activities and their engagement past and present, to analyze the changes in citizenship that has taken place in the last quarter century.

Therefore we will look back to the caesura of 1989 and depict it as one key backdrop against which the developments relevant for current civic engagement are delineated.

Furthermore, we will scrutinize the conditions which have changed since then and how these changes have affected civic engagement, as for instance through the Document no. 9, issued in 2013.

From a historical comparative perspective we will explore how current citizens' activities are different now and then. Contributions incorporating the changing contexts in which civic engagements take place are encouraged. While highlighting the impact of new factors like the emergence of social media, an emphasis is also set on identifying stable patterns, values and strategies for civic engagement. 

Additionally, the analysis of innovative strategies for civic engagement in its current state which show possible developments and directions for Chinese citizenship are also encouraged

By setting current civic activities in the context of its historic precedent, we hope to capture the dynamic phenomenon of Chinese citizenship and its huge diversity. Thereby we will contribute to a comprehensive understanding of civic engagement, Chinese citizens, citizenship as well as to a greater awareness for the path dependency of civic development in the PRC.  


We invite papers from all disciplines of no more than 10,000 words. The deadline for completed papers is October 31st 2014. The papers should clearly state their relevance to this special issue. Empirically rooted contributions are welcomed as well as theory-based articles. We encourage scholars from all disciplines, as well as practitioners from the field of civic engagement, to contribute to this issue. Papers are to be submitted online to the Voluntas Editorial Manager:, with reference to: Special Issue Citizens in China. Authors of selected papers will be notified by the end of November 2014.

Suggestions for reviewers for the call Chinese Citizen’s Activities Past and Present:

Continuity and Change in Civic Engagement 

Papers are eligible if they 

• present a historic case and illustrating its relevance for the development of 

current civic engagement in China; 

• compare a historic and current case of civic engagement regarding (a) a 

set of variables, including but not limited to the socio-political context, the 

organizational structure, and the activists motivation; 

• present new forms of civic engagement, e.g. the illustration of an innovative 

mobilization strategy and its role for current civic engagement; 

• discussing the impact of new contextual factors or institutions, such as new 

media on the development of civic engagement; 

Papers based primarily on empiric cases have to not only describe the case of 

civic engagement but go beyond it by analyzing its role for Chinese citizenship, 

the direction civic engagement takes, the change in context conditions for civic 

engagement, the importance of the specific case. 

If the paper uses a theory driven argument, the contribution to understanding the 

status quo of Chinese civic engagement and citizenship has to be clear.

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