The cultural politics of introducing popular music into China's music education

Wai Chung HO*, Wing Wah Law

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Since embarking on its course of economic reform and opening up to the world in the late 1970s, China has moved from a planned economy to a socialist-market economy; the resulting social and cultural changes have been many, and are reflected in the country's school music curriculum. This paper first introduces the historical background of popular music in the community and in school music in China in the 20th century. Second, it explores the reformation of music education that has, from the turn of the millennium, included popular music in school music education. This is followed by a discussion of the integration of popular music into the school curriculum in terms of how music education and cultural politics are shaped by the social and political relationships between (1) contemporary cultural and social values and traditional Chinese ideologies; (2) collectivism and individualism; and (3) nationalism and globalism. It is argued that, despite the introduction of popular music and the emphasis put on it in some areas of school music education, the Chinese state still uses traditional Chinese culture and values to enhance its legitimacy and consolidate its authority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-425
Number of pages27
JournalPopular Music and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2012

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Music


Dive into the research topics of 'The cultural politics of introducing popular music into China's music education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this