China Centre welcomes Asia Scholar Professor Martin K Whyte (Harvard University)

The Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies is pleased to host Asia Scholar, Professor Martin K. Whyte (Harvard University). Professor Whyte will join the Centre (and the School of Social and Political Sciences) for three months in 2017 (February to May), 2018 and 2019 contributing to teaching and collaborative research on the sociology of contemporary China. He will also be presenting a seminar in the Contemporary China Seminar Series.

Professor Martin K Whyte is John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Sociology Emeritus and faculty associate of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University.

He will present a seminar in the Contemporary China Seminar Series on 27 April; Global popular anger against rising inequality; why is China an exception?, and teach an intensive subject with the School of Social and Political Sciences; Comparative Family Systems and Family Change. The intensive graduate level course focuses on how and why family patterns vary from society to society, and how and why the ways families are organized change over time within particular societies. Topics to be covered include the following:

  1. How much have family patterns varied, and how much do they currently vary, around the world?
  2. How do you classify different aspects of family organization so that you can make comparisons across societies and over time?
  3. What are some of the primary theories that have been developed to explain family variation and change, and how valid or invalid are they?
  4. What are the primary forces that have been producing family change in modern societies in recent decades?
  5. How effective can social policy interventions be in influencing families and family change patterns?
  6. How and why have Japanese families changed over the last century and more, and how well do the changes accord with various theories?
  7. How and why have Chinese families changed over the last century and more, and how well do the changes accord with various theories?
  8. What have been the long- and short-term change trends in Western societies (including Australia and New Zealand) in terms of family structure, kinship relations, fertility, childrearing, premarital relations and mate choice, marriage, divorce, the role of women, and patterns of aging?  How can these change patterns be explained?
  9. What is the second demographic transition, and what does this transformation indicate about the future of the family as an institution?

The course will be taught in intensive teaching mode, on Thursday afternoons, 1-5pm, for six weeks, from March 2 through April 6, with a preliminary and final paper required.  Please contact the instructor with any questions, at