Journal of East China Normal University(Educational Sciences) ›› 2023, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (12): 1-12.doi: 10.16382/j.cnki.1000-5560.2023.12.001


Subjective Rationality, Institutional Regulations, and the Rise and Fall of County High Schools: Based on the Perspective of Rational Choice Theory

Zhihui Wu, Qin Wang, Hao Liang   

  1. Key Research Base of Humanistic and Social Science of Ministry of Education, China Institute of Rural Education Development, Northeast Normal University, Changchun 130024, China
  • Online:2023-12-01 Published:2023-11-27


The revitalization of county high schools is a major decision of the Party Central Committee and the State Council during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, and one of the key supports for building a high-quality education system and implementing the rural revitalization strategy. To effectively promote the revitalization of county high schools, it is necessary to reveal the micro logic of county high school development, analyze the institutional causes of county high school collapse and explore feasible paths to long-term revitalization from the dual perspectives of subject rationality and institutional regulation. According to rational choice theory, we find that under the guidance of the logic of promotion, three major subjects, namely, students’ parents, administration departments and high schools, will take the initiative to make rational actions of student flow, student retention and student competition, while institutional loopholes are the key reasons for the collapse of county high schools: the weak attempt and regulation of the system of social forces to run schools leads to the impact of market logic on county high schools; “county-based” funding system leads to huge disparity in funding for inter-county high school education; the lack of student source guarantee system leads to the disadvantaged position of county high schools in the market of student source competition. The relationship between subjective rationality and institutional regulations under the perspective of ephemerality presents a “two-way interaction of asynchronous changes”. In order to respect the law of rational choice of subjects and effectively close the loopholes of the system, it is necessary to introduce, retain and train a group of excellent county high school teachers, improve, implement and use an effective county high school system, and reform, build and create a good county high school ecology.

Key words: county high school collapse, county high school development, subjective rationality, institutional regulations