T.E. Woronov: Class Work: Vocational Schools and China's Urban Youth

By Neelakandan, Sanil M. | Capital & Class, June 2017 | Go to article overview

T.E. Woronov: Class Work: Vocational Schools and China's Urban Youth


Neelakandan, Sanil M., Capital & Class


T. E. Woronov

Class Work: Vocational Schools and China's Urban Youth, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2017; 200pp.: ISBN 9780804795418, $25.95

Academic capitalism has been expanding across the globe in a ruthless fashion. Student as a category is converted into a commodity that is suited to the interests of capitalistic education. Economism has also penetrated into the space of education and it reduces the citizen-student to a stake holder. T. E. Woronov's book on Chinas urban youth and vocational education attempts to articulate the tensions within the diverse forms of education and its impact on stratified pupils. It is an ethnographical account that examines the relations between class formation and education. The student community is analysed as China's precariat. The category of numeric capital is invoked to demonstrate the complex state-capitalist educational transitions.

One of the significant aspects of the book is that it discusses the stigma associated with students from marginalized educational institutions. As the book shows, educational marginality is reproduced through the traditional state and capitalistic transformations and the author narrates the way in which this consolidates the rural and urban divide and related issues of social mobility and vocational education.

Woronov also explores the issue of vocational education and its embedded status within the knowledge economy. One of the important dimensions of concern is that of the analysis of the ways in which the notion of 'social worth' is articulated in the complex milieu of China's capitalistic-socialist economy and Confucius culture. Chinese modernity is analysed as a social-political turn that could not go beyond the economy-related question. China's project of vocational education has also procrastinated the larger questions of egalitarian political and societal culture. Economism in day-to-day Chinese life is examined as the false consciousness that diverts people's attention from genuine social issues.

The book also examines how Chinese media has mitigated the stigma that is sometimes related to vocational education by highlighting a number of successful entrepreneurs who had vocational educations. …

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