This paper discusses how individuals can use humor, sarcasm and mockery to question the governmental policies in China regarding issues such as tradition, democracy, values of education in general and of critical thinking specifically. Drawing on research on individualization of the Chinese society (discussed later), the paper interprets the use of humor by an individual Chinese while teaching English in a test-preparation school in China to illustrate how the authorities and their policies in diverse areas of Chinese life can be challenged. Focusing on the images that the teacher constructed in his jokes on the basis of personal experience, the analysis identified how he projected an attitude of a critical, rational, reflexive and self-reliant nonconformist person towards the political establishment by mocking it for its promotion of traditional and nationalistic discourses, as well as its problematic practices. Since such individuals arguably constitute the backbone of the civil society for a better China, there is a need to acknowledge in research their efforts to contest the discursive and ideological constraints when pursuing the path to remain “individuals” in a post-totalitarian society.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.