An investigation of citizenship construction among students in higher education: a Foucauldian perspective

Mingyue Michelle GU , Lu Yu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This study, adopting the Foucauldian lenses of citizenship, investigates how a group of students understand the prevailing social discourses and how such understanding and perceptions influence students’ sense of citizenship and coping strategies. Drawing on in-depth individual interviews with 28 participants from six universities in Hong Kong, the findings suggest that multiple factors have impacts on the university students’ sense of citizenship, including the media as technologies to shape citizenship, the essentialized ideological differences as an apparatus of intervention to shape and act upon individuals, and the legitimacy and discordance of opinions among individuals within both physical and virtual communities. The participants were found to gradually develop an awareness of the discursive construction of the social. They were found to search for their sense of citizenship through (a) opting for one ideological stance and/or keeping silent to avoid being othered within the social discourses existing at the social, community, and family levels; (b) adopting different coping strategies when dealing with their confusion towards conflicting comments; or (c) developing news reading literacy and coming to the realization of the role media plays in discursively constructing new citizens and exercising influence over existing and potential members of communities. The implications of the findings for curriculum design and policy making to develop support measures to facilitate students’ positive learning and whole-person development are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-65
Number of pages15
JournalHigher Education
Issue number84
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


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