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This subject presents an overview of the patterns of social life in China and how these have changed since the revolution in 1949. The socialist transformations led by Mao Zedong after 1949 and the market and other reforms led by Deng Xiaoping after 1978 receive equal emphasis. Topics covered include political institutions, work organizations, rural life, urbanisation, religion, family life, population control, gender relations, inequality, and schooling. The course will be co-taught by Martin Whyte of Harvard University, one of the leading Western scholars of social change in China, and Graeme Smith, one of the few Western researchers to have worked within Chinese local government. Professor Whyte’s lectures will trace the origins and dynamics of social change in China, while Dr Smith will focus on current debates surrounding social change in contemporary China. Documentary films dealing with contemporary social patterns and trends in China will be shown outside of class hours and students will be encouraged to engage with current developments in China through the course Twitter feed. Extensive use will be made of audio-visual and online material. Students who do not yet have a WeChat or Weibo account will be encouraged to open one. This class is run as a seminar and students will be expected to research, present, and write a short research paper (1000 words) over the course of the semester, and in collaboration with their lecturers develop a research topic for their final term paper (4000 words).
Intended learning outcomes
Students who successfully complete this subject should:
- Gain an understanding of the origins of social change in contemporary China
- Gain an understanding of social issues that arise from China’s rapid transition from a planned to a market economy and debates surrounding social change in China
- Have an ability to apply research skills and critical methods to an enquiry
- Develop skills in historical comparison through detailed consideration of how Chinese social life before the revolution, under socialism, and after market reforms compares and contrasts with social patterns in Western societies
- Gain an ability to evaluate information from print and online media covering contemporary China.
Students who successfully complete this subject should be able to:
- apply research skills and critical methods to a field of enquiry
- demonstrate an ability to develop arguments and ideas effectively through seminar discussions
- apply their analytical skills to conflicting online and historical material
- show improvement in their writing skills through the final term paper.
Last updated: 3 November 2022