How Science-Engineering Graduates Become so Powerful Elites in China?

중국의 이공계 강세 현상에 대한 고찰

  • ;
  • Bak Hee-Je
  • ;
  • 박희제 (경희대학교 사회학과)
  • Published : 2004.12.01


Korean scientific community has recently argued that, in order to attract talented young people to the science and engineering fields, more ranking positions in the governmental office should be filled in by science and engineering majors. In this context, a special attention has been paid to the Chinese case where science and engineering majors have taken the highest places in Chinese political hierarchy. This paper examines historical and social background of the salience of science and engineering fields in modem China. A closer examination shows that the salience of science and engineering fields was resulted by the distinct historical experiences of China-the socialist reform of higher education system and Cultural Revolution. The former shaped the social conviction that humanities and social sciences are less useful than science and engineering fields. The latter even spread the idea that majoring in humanities or social sciences run the risk of political oppressions. Thus, the salience of science and engineering in China is a social phenomenon reflecting an academic hierarchy forced by the radical politics of modem China. Also, the higher proportion of science and engineering majors in the raking governmental officers has been resulted by a unique Chinese political system, in particular the personnel management system of the Chinese Communist Party that emphasizes practical experiences after college graduation. The comparison of the social position of science and engineering majors in China and Korea without taking account of such historical and social background may therefore mislead our understanding of the cause of and counterplan to the decreasing popularity of science and engineering fields in Korean universities.