Technologies of the Self

  • Shaoying Zhang
  • Derek McGhee
Part of the Politics and Development of Contemporary China book series (PDCC)


This chapter, following the discussion of the institutionalization of techniques through criticism and self-criticism study sessions in Chap.  7, will examine in detail how the care of the self is to be practised within the self through the culture of “self-cultivation.” The question that drives this chapter is: how is the governing of the self, or the care of the self, to be achieved within the self? We show from our participants’ perspectives that learning “the code” (Party decrees and regulations) is linked with techniques of knowing oneself through the processes of self-criticism and criticism. We examine our participants’ experiences of these complex combinations of techniques associated with moral guidance, the examination of conscience, memorization (and remembering) and avowal through compulsory study sessions. We will show that the process of self-cultivation includes (1) turning one’s gaze towards the self through remembering; (2) revealing truths through self-criticism; (3) knowing the self through the criticism and guidance of others; (4) knowing the self through the politics of shame, sincerity and honesty; (5) internalization and reconciliation of the relations to the self. By so doing, these processes are an attempt by the Party to try and ensure that its dictates are thoroughly processed and that officials internalize the code in all aspects of their lives.


Provincial Government Party Member Study Session Work Style Party Discipline 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shaoying Zhang
    • 1
  • Derek McGhee
    • 2
  1. 1.Shanghai University of Political Science and LawShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of Sociology, Social Policy, CriminologyUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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