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Anno accademico 2022/2023

Codice attività didattica
Corso di studio
Corso di laurea magistrale in Scienze internazionali (Classe LM-52)
1° anno
Secondo semestre
SSD attività didattica
SPS/07 - sociologia generale
Tipologia esame
Tipologia unità didattica
The proposed syllabus for this course will allow also students who have not previously acquired disciplinary knowledge to achieve the indicated learning outcomes. Whilst introducing new knowledge and concepts aimed to encourage a critical analysis and problematization of the political as well as the socioeconomic development of contemporary China, basic relevant key historical, social and cultural facts will be reviewed throughout the course, in order to ensure full participation and understanding to all students. Therefore, no specific prerequisites are required.

Sommario insegnamento



Cancellazione iscritti ai corsi sulla piattaforma del Dipartimento

Obiettivi formativi

The course Economy and Society in Contemporary China integrates other courses and teachings within the Global China program offered by the CdLM Scienze Internazionali, with the aim of providing disciplinary knowledge and skills for the study of China's political, social and economic development.

The course is composed of a total of three modules and is taught by two instructors: Professor Zhang Jian (first two modules) and Professor Andornino (final module).

Instructors of the course:

  • Professor Zhang Jian - School of Government, Peking University, whose modules seek to introduce students to the main issues in the study of Chinese politics, with a special focus on the policy making process and macro political trajectories in contemporary China.
  • Professor Andornino 

Risultati dell'apprendimento attesi

At the end of the full course, the students will have acquired the following knowledge and skills:

  • Familiarity with the political development of China from late Qing to the late 1980’s and with the institutional characteristics of the Chinese Party-State
  • Clear understanding of the evolution of Chinese society and economy after 1949
  • Ability to identify key concepts, dynamics and controversies pertaining Chinese politics, society and economy up today
  • Critical and clear knowledge of key narratives and policy-related discourses pertaining China’s contemporary politics, society and economy
  • Acquisition of the necessary analytical tools in order to conduct informed and independent research on socioeconomic aspects of contemporary China, employing both primary and secondary sources
  • Clear understanding of the most relevant social and economic indicators for socioeconomic analyses and relevant data analysis


The course is composed of a total of three modules.

Modules one and two - Chinese politics (Zhang):

In Lectures 1-3, the instructor will cover in a very brief manner the political development of China from late Qing to late 1980’s, trying to help the students understand the main themes of the Chinese politics and background of the current political problems.

In Lectures 4-7, we will analyze the institutional characteristics of the Chinese Party-State, cover the main models to understand the Chinese policy making process, and we will use some examples to illustrate the power and shortcomings of the models.

Three major “contradictions” in Chinese politics, namely the relationship between the central and local Party States, the State and the Society, and China and the outside world, will be covered in Lectures 8-10. These are the main frameworks with and within which Chinese politics unfolds and major academic debates evolve.

In the final two lectures, the current struggle and debate about the Chinese political future will be reviewed.

Module three - China's socioeconomic development and research methods (Professor Andornino)

This final module will be organized around thematic sections, covering the following major topics:

  • Evolution of Chinese society and economy 1949-today
  • Internationalization, economy and industry development projects in contemporary China
  • Urbanization and urban planning
  • Key socioeconomic inequalities: gender, social class and stratification, regional and rural-urban inequalities, education and housing
  • Social institutions: family, relationships, citizenship and migration
  • Consumer revolution and the new middle class
  • Research methods and practice



Modalità di insegnamento

The course will be delivered online and in English, and will be organized around the following formats:

  • Lectures, delivered in English and designed with an interactive approach
  • Q&A sessions and class discussions
  • Independent learning, which includes both readings and suggested movies/documentaries that explore relevant topics

Modalità di verifica dell'apprendimento

Evaluation will be carried out in the form of a closed book final written exam, which is designed to encourage an integrated application of the knowledge and skills acquired throughout the course.

The final exam includes both a key concept section and an essay question section.

The key concept question section will have 10 questions, and the students can pick any 5 out of the 10. Each of the key concept question should be answered in a succinct way with no more than 12 lines.

The essay question section will have 4 questions, and the students can pick any 2 out of the 4. Each of the essays should have at least 25 lines.

Those students who are unable to attend the course are invited to get in touch with the instructors to discuss the syllabus and the final examination.

Testi consigliati e bibliografia


Modules one and two - Chinese politics (Zhang):

Schell, Orville and John Delury. Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty First Century, New York: Little, Brown, 2013 (Henceforth Schell and Delury)

Walder, Andrew. China under Mao: A Revolution Derailed, Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 2015 (Henceforth Walder)

Heilmann, Sebastian. China’s Political System. Lanham, MD.: Rowman & Littlefield. 2017 (Henceforth Heilmann)

Economy, Elizabeth. The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State. New York: Oxford University Press. 2016 (Henceforth Economy)

Introduction of the Course & Lecture 1

Themes of Chinese Politics and the Rise of CCP

Walder, Chap. 2

Lieberthal, Kenneth. Governing China: From Revolution through Reform, New York: W. Norton & Company, 2nd edition, 2004, pp. 1-56.

Lecture 2

Maoist China: Foundation, Chaos and A Map for Future

Walder, Chaps. 3,7,10

Yang, Dali. Calamity and Reform in China, Chap. 2, Stanford University Press, 1998

Lecture 3

Deng Xiaoping’s Reform and Opening, or the Ultimate Dualism

Vogel, Ezra F. Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China, Chaps. 7,13, 22-23, Belknap, 2013

Richard Baum, Burying Mao: Chinese Politics in the Age of Deng Xiaoping, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996, pp. 3-23

Zhao, D. (1998). "Ecologies of Social Movements: Student Mobilization during the 1989 Prodemocracy Movement in Beijing." American Journal of Sociology 103(6): 1493-1529.

Lecture 4

Population Governance: Politics, Science, and Economics

Susan Greenhalgh and Edwin A. Winckler, Population, Policy, and Politics: From Leninist to Neoliberal Biopolitics, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005, pp. 1-54, 205-244Davis, D. S. 2014. "Demographic Challenges for a Rising China." Daedalus, Vol. 143, No.2

Zhang, Hong. 2007 “From Resisting to ‘Embracing’ the One Child Rule”, The China Quarterly, No. 192

Lecture 5

Governing the “Un-Chinese” China: Ethnic Policy in Xinjiang

Fiskesjö, Magnus, 2006. “Rescuing the Empire: Chinese Nation-building in the Twentieth Century”, European Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol. 5, No.1

Sean R. Roberts, "A "Land of Borderlands": Implications of Xinjiang's Trans-border Interactions", in S. Frederick Starr ed. Xinjiang, China's Muslim Border Land. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2010, pp. 216-240

Cliff, Thomas, 2012.“The Partnership of Stability in Xinjiang: State–Society Interactions Following the July 2009 Unrest”, The China Journal, No. 68

Lecture 6

The Center-Local Relations: Pendulum of Centralization and Decentralization

Landry, Pierre. Decentralized Authoritarianism in China: The Communist Party's Control of Local Elites in the Post-Mao Era. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2008, Chaps. 1-3 (E-book available at PKU Library website)

Chen, D. ""Supervision by Public Opinion" Or by Government Officials? Media Criticism and Central-Local Government Relations in China." Modern China 43, no. 6 (2017): 620-645.

Lecture 7

State-Society Relations: toward New Totalitarianism?

Andrew J. Nathan, 2003. “Authoritarian Resilience” Journal of Democracy, Vol. 14

Sebastian, Chap. 5

Thornton, Patricia M., 2013. “The Advance of the Party: Transformation or Takeover of Urban Grassroots Society?”, The China Quarterly, No. 213.

Chen, Jie and Bruce Dickson, 2008. “Allies of the State: Democratic Support and Regime Support among China’s Private Entrepreneurs”, The China Quarterly.  No. 196.

Lecture 8

Contentious Politics: Resistance, Rebellion and Revolution

Lorentzen, Peter. "Designing Contentious Politics in Post-1989 China." Modern China 43, no. 5 (2017): 459-493

Lee, Ching Kwan. 2016. "Precarization or Empowerment? Reflections on Recent Labor Unrest in China", Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 75, No. 2

Fu, Diana. Mobilizing without the Masses: Control and Contention in China. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2017. Chap. 1

Cheng, Edmund W. "Street Politics in a Hybrid Regime: The Diffusion of Political Activism in Post-Colonial Hong Kong." China Quarterly 226, no. 226 (2016): 383-406.

Lecture 9

Xi-ism and the Future of Chinese Politics  

Nathan, Andrew. 2009. “Authoritarian Impermanence”, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 20

Economy, Chaps 2, 8,

Sebastian, Chap. 7

Li, Lianjiang. 2016. "Reassessing Trust in the Central Government: Evidence from Five National Surveys", in The China Quarterly, No. 225


Module three - China's socioeconomic development and research methods 

Suggested readings:

Bray, David., 2005. “Danwei space”, in Social Space and Governance in Urban China. The Danwei System from origins to reform, p. 123-156. Stanford, Stanford University Press.

Davis, Deborah. 2006. “Urban Chinese Homeowners as Citizen-Consumers”, The Ambivalent Consumer, S. Garon and P. Maclachlan (eds.), p. 281-299. Cornel, Cornell University Press.

Heilmann, Sebastian. 2008. “From local experiments to national policy: the origins of China's distinctive policy process”, The China Journal, (59): 1-30.

Jacka, Tamara. 2009. “Cultivating Citizens: Suzhi (Quality) Discourse in the PRC”, Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, vol. 17, no. 3: 523-535.

Jewell, Nicholas. 2015. “The new breed” & “The city reified”, in Shopping malls and public space in modern China, p. 75-106 & p. 153-178. Burlington, Ashgate.

Pow, Choon-Piew. 2007. "Securing the 'Civilised' Enclaves: Gated Communities and the Moral Geographies of Exclusion in (Post-)Socialist Shanghai". Urban Studies, 44, (8): 1539-1558.

Sun, Wanning. 2009. “Suzhi on the Move: Body, Place and Power”, Positions: East Asia cultures critique, vol. 17, no. 3: 617-642.

Taylor, Jon. R. 2015. “The China Dream is an Urban Dream: Assessing the CPC’s National New-Type Urbanization Plan”, Journal of Chinese Political Sciences, 20(2): 107–120.

Tomba, Luigi. 2008. “Making Neighbourhoods: The government of social change in China’s cities”, China perspectives, 4 (Special Feature: The City, Laboratory of the New China): 48-61.

Wang, Yourong 2020. “Housing wealth inequality in China: An urban-rural comparison”, Cities, 96.

Ying, Miao. 2017. “Middle Class Identity in China: Subjectivity and Stratification”, Asian Studies Review, 41(4): 629-646.

Further resources and suggestions will be shared at the beginning of the course.

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Classes will be held every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, from 8am to 10am, and will be delivered entirely online.

The lessons will take place on the Cisco Webex platform. The link will be sent by email by the Instructors to the participants.


The course will start on Monday, 21st February, 2022.

  • Chiusa
    Apertura registrazione
    15/02/2022 alle ore 09:00
    Chiusura registrazione
    11/03/2022 alle ore 12:00
    Ultimo aggiornamento: 23/05/2022 14:23