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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Sociology

Postgraduate Course: China's Contemporary Transformations (SCIL11034)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryChina has undergone 150 years of tumultuous change, yet contemporary social and political conditions are often explained with reference to Chinese tradition. With a starting point in 20th century projects that sought to bring about radical transformation in China, this course will consider continuity and change in contemporary mainland China through a number of themes: migration and urbanization; social class and gender relations; culture and individualization; and citizenship and social movements. Through these themes, the course will identify perspectives on pathways to change, as well as factors of continuity in social and political life.
Course description The main aim of this course will be to learn about and critically analyse processes of social change occurring in contemporary Chinese society from a sociological perspective, particularly reflecting on the interplay between engineered (from above) and organic (from below) social change in shaping current patterns of social life. This knowledge and analysis will enable an assessment of different theories about why social change happens and what are its consequences. The course aims to support students in developing and enhancing their skills in analysis, research and communication, as well as using feedback to improve their work.

The course will address the following themes and questions:
1. Setting the scene:
Looking back over the past 100 years of Chinese history, what has changed and what remains the same? What was the rationale for the social revolution embarked on after the Communist Party took power in 1949? How were changes initiated, and what effects did they have?
2. Culture, forms of life and individualization:
What kind of collectivities did the institutions for integrating citizens into the new Communist order bring into being, and what sort of social order did they produce? And how is that order changing with marketization? Is individualization displacing collectivist social norms in contemporary China?
3. Transformations of social class and gender:
How has it been possible for a communist party that had made workers and peasants the 'masters of the state' to turn labour into a commodity and promote the formation of a 'middle class' in the last 30 years? What is the legacy of the official endorsement of gender quality at a time when femininity is increasingly commodified, and discrimination against women is widespread?
4. Migration and urbanization:
How has the enforced division between urban and rural imposed during the Mao era through the hukou household registration system been changing as a result of marketization and increasing internal mobility? What are the logics and effects of new state projects of massive urbanization?
5. Citizenship and social movements:
How is it possible that in a strong authoritarian state, street protests and online dissent have become routine occurrences? What spaces exist in the current system of governance for contentious politics and expression of citizen opinions and grievances? Can 'citizenship' exist in an authoritarian polity?

The course will incorporate a range of teaching methods, including lectures, small group and whole class discussions and watching and discussing excerpts from documentary films made by Chinese film-makers to aid in developing a sense of daily life and specific contexts in contemporary China. Each of the 10 two hour classes will include components of lecture and group discussion. In addition, there will be five seminars for PGs only, with each being led by a team of students who are focusing their work on a particular course theme. The course aims to support students in developing and enhancing their skills in analysis, research and communication, as well as using feedback to improve their work.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  17
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The course will be assessed as follows:
- A 1000-word book review on one of a selected list of books on contemporary China (20%)
- Tutorial participation, including leading discussion on a selected theme (10%)
- One essay outline and a final essay on a theme chosen by the student, 4000-4500 words (70%)«br /»
Feedback Course assignments are designed to build knowledge on a substantive area of the student¿s choice related to course themes. The book review will be a chance to read around a chosen theme and begin to identify a question that will be the focus of the final essay. For the tutorial participation element, students will develop expertise on their theme through working in groups and leading discussion on that theme. Feedback on these assignments will thus be formative in contributing towards refining a question for the final essay. In addition, a graded essay outline will give students formative feedback on their ideas so that they can incorporate this into their final essay. In the final essay, students will be asked to reflect on how they incorporated this feedback into their essay.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop a sophisticated sociological perspective on some important features of contemporary society in mainland China, including the relation of contemporary patterns of social phenomena to historical processes
  2. Generate creative and original approaches to analysing these phenomena
  3. Develop and demonstrate the ability to communicate these approaches clearly in written work, including in different genres of writing
  4. Understand and apply in a critical fashion key concepts, themes and questions related to selected reading and facilitate discussion among peers
  5. Incorporate feedback on an essay plan to improve finished written work
Reading List
Blecher, Marc. 2010. China against the Tides: Restructuring through Revolution, Radicalism and Reform. Continuum International Publishing Group.
Bray, David. 2005. Social Space and Governance in Urban China: The Danwei System from Origins to Reform. Stanford University Press.
Chan, Anita, Richard Madsen and Jonathan Unger. 2009. Chen Village: Revolution to Globalization. University of California Press.
Chen, Xi. 2012. Social Protest and Contentious Authoritarianism in China. Cambridge University Press.
Choi, Suzanne Yuk-ping, and Yinni Peng. 2016. Masculine Compromise: Migration, Family and Gender in China. University of California Press.
Evans, Harriet. 2007. Subject of Gender: Daughters and Mothers in Urban China. Rowman and Littlefield.
Farrer, James. 2002. Opening up: Youth Sex Culture and Market Reform in Shanghai. University of Chicago Press.
Fei, Xiaotong. 1992. From the Soil, the Foundations of Chinese Society. University of California Press.
Fincher, Leta Hong. 2014. Leftover Women: the Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China. Zed Books.
Goodman, David S. G. 2008. The New Rich in China: Future Rulers, Present Lives. Routledge.
Goodman, David S. G. 2014. Class in Contemporary China. John Wiley and Sons.
Hanser, Amy. 2008. Service Encounters: Class, Gender, and the Market for Social Distinction in Urban China. Stanford University Press.
Hershatter, Gail. 2011. The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China¿s Collective Past. University of California Press.
Hsing, You-tien. 2010. The Great Urban Transformation: Politics of Land and Property in China. Oxford University Press.
Hsing, You-tien, and Ching Kwan Lee(ed.s). 2010. Reclaiming Chinese Society: The New Social Activism. Routledge.
Jacka, Tamara. 2005. Rural Women in Urban China: Gender, Migration and Social Change. M. E. Sharpe.
Jacka, Tamara and Sally Sargeson. 2011. Women, Gender and Rural Development in China. Edward Elgar.
Judd, Ellen. 2002. The Chinese Women¿s Movement Between State and Market. Stanford University Press.
Lee, Ching Kwan. 2007. Against the Law: Labor Protests in China¿s Rustbelt and Sunbelt. University of California Press.
Lee, Ching Kwan (ed.). 2007. Working in China: Ethnographies of Labor and Workplace Transformation. Routledge.
Mitter, Rana. 2008. Modern China: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press.
O¿Brien, Kevin J (ed.). 2008. Popular Protest in China. Harvard University Press.
O¿Brien, Kevin J., and Lianjiang Li. 2006. Rightful Resistance in Rural China. Cambridge University Press
Perry, Elizabeth J. 2012. Anyuan: Mining China¿s Revolutionary Tradition. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Perry, Elizabeth J. and Mark Selden (ed.s). Chinese Society: Change, Conflict and Resistance. RoutledgeCurzon.
Rofel, Lisa. 1999. Other Modernities: Gendered Yearnings in China After Socialism. University of California Press.
Stockman, Norman. 2000. Understanding Chinese Society. Polity Press.
Tomba, Luigi. 2014. The Government Next Door: Neighborhood Politics in Urban China. Cornell University Press.
Whyte, Martin King (ed.). 2010. One Country, Two Societies: Rural-Urban Inequality in Contemporary China. Harvard University Press.
Yan, Yunxiang. 2009. The Individualization of Chinese Society. Berg.
Zhang, Li. 2010. In Search of Paradise: Middle-Class Living in a Chinese Metropolis. Cornell University Press.
Zhang, Li. 2001. Strangers in the City: Reconfigurations of Space, Power, and Social Networks within China's Floating Population. Stanford University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Evaluation, critical analysis
Develop creative and original approaches to issues
Oral and written communication skills, genre writing
Autonomy and working with others
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Sophia Woodman
Tel: (0131 6)51 4745
Course secretaryMr Joe Burrell
Tel: (0131 6) 51 3892
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