Beyond McDonaldization: Visions of Higher Education
© 2017 D. Hayes. Everybody loves China these days, but it has not always been thus. Its transformation from an international pariah state to the envy of the world has been even quicker and more impressive than its much-vaunted economic miracle. Emerging from a peasant economy to be the largest trading nation in the world in 35 years is astonishing, but its shift from Tiananmen Square revilement to gaining a seat on the UN Human Rights council in 25 years is no less remarkable. The strategic analyst Gerald Segal published an article in Foreign Affairs in 1999 titled 'Does China Matter?' As The Diplomat magazine now points out, 'today virtually nobody would ask the question'. China and Chinese-ness are everywhere. The phrase 'Chinese Dream' has almost entered the Western canon. China's movie industry is gaining fans as well as providing a source of funding for ailing Western studios. Jack Ma's Alibaba is the most popular destination for online shopping worldwide. And the UN World Tourism Organization predicts that China will be the world's leading travel destination around 2016-2018. Admittedly, there are still Cold Warriors who baulk at the continued use of Mao's face on China's paper currency, or who protest at the illiberal excesses of its one-party state, but it seems that, in general, we're all Chinaphiles now. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron is explicit: 'We want to see China succeed' (Cameron 2012). Nowhere is China emerging as a Western obsession more than in the education sector. China's educational development - or its 'education revolution' as it is often approvingly dubbed - is cited as the way forward for many educationalists and politicians alike. As the West chases the Chinese yuan and tries to safeguard the financial benefits of luring Chinese students to its universities, it might be an appropriate time to explore the reality of Chinese education and what drives it.