Evaluation and Interpretation: Research on Policy Discourse of the International Wushu Federation

Shanghai University of Sport

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis


The International Wushu Federation (IWUF) is the most influential organization entity in Wushu internationalization and plays an irreplaceable role in Wushu’s entry into the Olympics and the Wushu’s popularization. Evaluating the development and the policy of the IWUF can contribute to clarify the role and value of the IWUF and broaden the observation perspective of Wushu internationalisation. However, the theoretical value and practical significance of the organizational communication conducted by IWUF have not been given due attention for a long time. First, the research on the Wushu internationalization is mostly the macro-strategic study on how to promote Wushu internationally in the national-level, ignoring the importance of the IWUF for the Wushu internationalisation. Second, the policy effect of IWUF is not well effective, and there is a dependence on Chinese Wushu Association within IWUF’s development. It is the inevitable requirement for the accuracy and scientisation of the IWUF to evaluate and contextual interpret the policy discourse of the IWUF, it also helps to clarify the origin of policy issues and the demands of stakeholders. Furthermore, it can provide policy knowledge for the IWUF to improve its governance and enhance its decision-making level and provide theoretical and experience references for promoting the deep dissemination of Wushu in international audiences.
The study utilizes the Theories of Change approach and discourse analysis theory and takes IWUF’s policy discourse as the object. The author went into Wushu teaching, academic seminar and European Wushu competition in a one-year overseas field survey to lay the foundation of contextualization analysis, and interviewed eight IWUF senior officers and 28 international Wushu judge, national Wushu officers, Wushu coaches and scholars to obtain their views towards IWUF’s policy and Wushu, and then used QSR NVivo to coding the policy text and the oral text. On this basis, in order to reveal what IWUF’s policy has said, how it was said and how effective in different contexts, the study evaluates IWUF’s policy according to the stakeholders’ viewpoints and then explore the discourse challenge of Wushu’s entry into the Olympics and the discourse dilemma of the term Wushu in specific contexts.
The policy assumptions present the way and process of how policy issues are recognized, expressed, and resolved. Findings suggest that IWUF’s policy is characterised by policy failure. The IWUF’s policy outcomes have been achieved in organization scale and structure, competition system, international authority certification. However, there are “implementation failure” due to the lack of organizational representation and the deviation of social media operation focus, as well as “theory failure” caused by the technical reform of competitive Wushu routines in policy practice. Furthermore, the neglect of reasonable demands of policy stakeholders and the contexts have caused difficulties in the transformation of the identity of competition participants, and policy stakeholders use the weak resistance aiming to defend their reasonable interests.
Discourse rules limit the effectiveness of policy discourse practice. The study also found that in the context of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Wushu still faces discourse challenges in entering the Olympics. The IOC’s policy agenda construction for the evaluation of Olympic sports and disciplines has constructed the ideal image of the Olympic events, which was presented in the “Evaluation Criteria for Sports and Disciplines” and showing a focus on sport’s popularity. In this context, IWUF’s policy change for Wushu’s entry into the Olympics and the report for the 2020 Olympics did not follow IOC’s rules well. And there are problems such as insufficient popularity, the weak international foundation of Wushu community, and the improper statement strategy. It suggests that IWUF should adjust the policy discourse from the following aspects: clarifying the international background of the popularity, handling the development relationship between the masses and the elite, adjust the statement tactics of IWUF’s report to IOC, and making good use of the opportunities of OCOG Proposal for Wushu’s inclusion into the Olympics.
The image and the meaning of the linguistic symbol are constructed through the representation. The study also found that the official term Wushu faces discourse difficulties that are not recognized or unknown in the West. For the western audiences, Kung Fu is more representative in terms of “Kung Fu movie, traditional Wushu and utility” compared with Wushu’s image of “competitive Wushu, dancing performance and official discourse”. By examining the discourse practice of both symbols, the authoritativeness of Kung Fu lies in the habitus transference in terms of it satisfying the pre-understanding of “Chinese martial arts” in Western culture. However, the IWUF did not have the clear positioning of “what is Wushu” in its policy discourse practice for defining Wushu and unifying Kung Fu. It resulted in the contradiction of IWUF’s policy discourse and hinders the acceptance and recognition of the official term Wushu by the policy audience.
Based on the research’s theoretical practice, it is proposed that power competition within the sports organisations and the cognitive differences of different subjects on the sport affect the policy effects and the policy evaluation results. The co-creation of policy knowledge with the participation of multiple subjects can ease the power competition and cognitive differences, and form a policy consensus to solve policy problems. Focusing on the development of the organization, it suggests that IWUF should construct a knowledge system of Wushu term from “clarifying the connotation of Wushu; strengthening Wushu’s dominance of utterance; uniting multiple discourse subjects; enhancing the operation of the media”. Secondly, the IWUF needs to realize the transformation of the concept of good governance through “active policy learning, promoting dialogue and negotiation, and establishment of evaluation systems”.
Translated title of the contributionEvaluation and Interpretation: Research on Policy Discourse of the International Wushu Federation
Original languageChinese
Awarding Institution
  • Shanghai University of Sport
  • Zhu, Dong, Supervisor, External person
  • Theeboom, Marc, Supervisor
Award date31 Dec 2020
Place of PublicationBeijing
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2021


  • the International Wushu Federation
  • Discourse Analysis
  • theory-based evaluation
  • Wushu's entry into the Olympics
  • linguistic symbol


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