Document Type

Restricted Dissertation

Publication Date



This dissertation examines the changing constitutional constructions of educational

equality in the U.S. and China during the half-century since World War II. Specifically, it analyzes how historical actors critical to shaping the constitutional constructions conceived of educational equality. This dissertation uses legal-historical, legal-sociological, and comparative approaches to reveal similar trajectories of that conceptual evolution in both countries: With the revival of capitalism in the post-1980s, the constitutional construction of educational equality in the U.S. began to shift from anti-subordination to colorblindness; The market-oriented reforms in post-Mao China also witnessed a transition from a mass-oriented view of equality of results to an elite-oriented idea of equality of opportunity. This project finds that the constitutional construction of educational equality evolved in both countries around the 1980s from a paradigm that preferred the educationally disadvantaged to one that less focused on the disadvantaged was influenced by the global neoliberal turn. It also draws on a case study of the history of education law in Xinjiang to provide insights into the potential impact of postneoliberal appeals for increased state intervention on educational equality. This dissertation not only fills the academic gap in equality studies in China from a constitutional historical perspective, but also reveals that the concept of educational equality could be better understood as an integral player in the dynamic interaction of economy and society. These findings are particularly important today as global capitalism faces multiple crises.

Publication Citation

292 Pages in Length. Electronic access to this document is restricted to the University of Pennsylvania Campus