Power to the people: Education for social change in the philosophies of Paulo Freire and Mozi

Yann Ru Ho*, Wei Chieh Tseng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


As Paulo Freire’s education theory for social change and emancipation is being continually studied and disseminated in East Asia, it has faced skepticism as some educators are unfamiliar with its critical pedagogy or education for freedom concepts. In light of this, scholars have attempted to compare Freirean philosophies with concepts in Chinese philosophy of education as a way of bridging East and West. Diverging from previous studies that use popular Chinese philosophies (such as Confucianism) to connect with Freirean theory, this paper introduces an understudied but compatible Chinese philosophical thought, Mohism, for comparison with Freirean theory. Mohism is a political philosophy for the working class that expanded into grassroots movements for people’s welfare in ancient China. The Mohist bottom-up approach echoes the grassroots emancipatory pedagogy that underlies Freirean philosophy. A comparative analysis of education concepts in both philosophies reveals that despite differences in the educational content of Freirean theory and Mohism, there are similarities in their conceptualization of education for anti-oppression and praxis for social change. Implications for utilizing Mohist philosophy to contemplate Freirean philosophy within the East Asian educational context are also explored. Ultimately this paper revives educational concepts of Mohism that aligns with Freirean philosophy to a broader audience of scholars and educators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2180-2191
Number of pages12
JournalEducational Philosophy and Theory
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2022


  • Mozi
  • Paulo Freire
  • emancipatory education
  • praxis
  • social change


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