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The emergence of civil society and nongovernmental organizations in China reflects the rise of new social and political issues that have proven challenging for the Chinese state to address effectively. This subject examines the conditions under which certain ideas, organizational forms, and associational practices have taken hold as well as the ways they have been contested, transformed, and adapted. It explores various social problems – like the rise of gender inequality, labour rights, LGBT concerns, environmental problems, and others – that civil society organizations in China have sought to tackle and examines the broader context in which civil society actors work. The subject includes the comparative study of civil society and social change in Taiwan and Hong Kong, two places that have followed their own distinctive historical trajectories but which are inevitably influenced by and influence the situation in mainland China.
In all three places, we will examine how various theories might help explain the relationships between civil society organizations, the market, the state, and political processes. Empirically, we will pay particular attention to practices like volunteering, social service delivery, and social and political advocacy. The subject will also consider the impact of global civil society and its challenges to traditional notions of the nation-state and national civil societies, including China’s own ‘going abroad’ ambitions.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- Evaluate and contrast the social, cultural, and political contexts in which civil society has developed in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan;
- Demonstrate a depth of knowledge of civil society theories and their application to empirical contexts;
- Analyse how civil society organizations are impacting various social problems in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan;
- Develop an ability to apply research skills and critical methods to an enquiry;
- Develop an ability to write an analytical paper.
Upon successful completion of this subject, students should have:
- improved written communication;
- improved oral presentation skills;
- improved ability to critique and apply general social scientific theories to contemporary Chinese societies.
Last updated: 9 September 2021