Ideological formation, national development, and the "mass line"


Cultural policy
Socialist development
Mass line


The subject of this article is the nexus of strategic political frameworks of the People's Republic of China that have informed the evolution of national cultural policy. The article underscores how cultural policy always was, and has remained, a central official mechanism for both national economic development and not (as is assumed) the dissemination and inculcation of political ideology. This article therefore attempts to address what it perceives to be the limited depth of Western contemporary cultural policy research on China — and its research agenda otherwise hostile to China’s communist government. The article’s principle purpose is therefore to identify the conditions by which cultural policy emerged as a significant field of political thought, strategically used by central government for articulating its mission, values and aims within its broader political economy. The article argues that today, even without the possibility of China’s immanent conversion to Western liberal-style democracy, the enterprise of cultural policy can play a significant role in the country’s development. This possibility is not dependent upon Westernisation or Western influence in any form, but on what is one of the most established of communist doctrines, the doctrine of the “mass line”.


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