The Fruits of Opportunism: The Making of the World’s Largest For-profit Education Industry in China

The Fruits of Opportunism

Supplemental education, such as test-preparation coaching and after-school tutoring, has become increasingly influential in shaping educational outcomes and social inequality in China. This study examines the last forty years of the world’s largest for-profit education industry that exists on the margins of China’s socialist education system. Drawing on in-depth interviews, internal archives, and participant observation in 28 leading supplemental education organizations, this study found that ambiguities in the industry empowered socially marginalized entrepreneurs to enter a previously state-dominated market. While some scholars have argued that China’s education privatization is a top-down process, this study proposes a new bottom-up process that highlights the role of opportunist organizations as agents of change. It also illustrates that while opportunism leaves destruction in its wake, it can also drive the formation and evolution of China’s market economy.

Dr. Le Lin is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. His research centers on organizations, work/occupations, economic sociology and social stratification in China. His first book, The Fruits of Opportunism: Noncompliance and the Evolution of China’s Supplemental Education Industry, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2022. This book draws on the privatization, marketization and financialization of China’s supplemental education sector to shed new light China’s market transition and economic/organizational changes. His articles have appeared in journals such as Socio-Economic Review, Higher Education and Global Perspectives, and have won awards from the American Sociological Association and the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics. Dr. Le Lin holds a B.A. in Economics from Zhejiang University, an M.A. in Education from Columbia University and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago.

The ANU China Seminar Series is supported by the Australian Centre on China in the World at ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.


Le Lin

Dates & times

Thursday, 6 April 2023

3.00pm - 4.30pm



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