New subject announcement: Social Change in Contemporary China (ASIA90014)

Semester One, 2018
8 Class Sessions: Tuesday 3:15-6:15pm, 27 February – 24 April 2018

Professor Martin Whyte (Harvard University and University of Melbourne)

In the hectic years and decades since 1949, a society that had relatively stable institutions and strong traditions stretching back many centuries has witnessed rapid and tumultuous changes. Under Communist Party rule after 1949, social change drastically accelerated, and China has experienced at least two fundamental social revolutions: one an attempt to establish a socialist economy and social system in the 1950s, under the leadership of Mao Zedong; and the market reforms, dismantling of much of the socialist economic system, and openness to the outside world after 1978 under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping and his successors. In this subject, the social changes that occurred as a result of both of these social revolutions will receive fairly equal emphasis. The subject will cover a wide range of topics, including political institutions, economic institutions and work organizations, rural social life, urban life and urbanization, schooling and education, inequality and stratification, family life, population, gender relations, religion, and culture. In general, the subject will be concerned with examining how successful or unsuccessful these social transformations were, and as a result, how much influence the post-socialist reforms and global influences, the socialist legacy, and China’s Confucian and other traditions have had in shaping the nature of Chinese society today.

Professor Martin Whyte’s primary research specialty over his career has been social patterns and social change in contemporary China. In recent years he has directed a series of surveys to examine how ordinary Chinese citizens view the sharply increasing gap between rich and poor, with the first of those surveys leading to his 2010 Stanford University Press book, Myth of the Social Volcano: Perceptions of Inequality and Distributive Injustice in Contemporary China. His other specialties within sociology include the sociology of the family, the sociology of economic development, and comparative sociology.

See full subject description in the Handbook

This subject is cross-listed with Master of Development Studies, Master of Social Policy, Gender and Development Specialisation, Graduate Diploma in Arts (Advanced) - Asian Studies. Check with your home program for details.