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Anno accademico 2023/2024

Codice attività didattica
Jian Zhang (Titolare dell'insegnamento)
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
Scritto ed orale
The syllabus for this course will allow all students, including those who have no previous knowledge in the field, to achieve the indicated learning outcomes.

While introducing new knowledge and concepts aimed at encouraging critical analysis and problematisation of the socioeconomic development of contemporary China, key historical, social and cultural dynamics will also be reviewed, in order to ensure full participation and understanding by all students.
Therefore, no specific prerequisites are required.


Sommario insegnamento


Obiettivi formativi

The Economy and Society in Contemporary China course builds on other courses within the China & Global Studies concentration offered by the Corso di Laurea Magistrale in Scienze Internazionali, with the aim of providing disciplinary knowledge and skills for the study of China's political, social and economic development.



Risultati dell'apprendimento attesi

After taking the whole course, students are expected to be familiar wih the political development of China from late Qing to late 1980’s and to be able to make their own informed and well-grounded arguments on the topics covered by the instructor:

- the institutional characteristics of the Chinese party-state

- the 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.



In the first three Lectures, the instructors 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.


Modalità di insegnamento

Lectures will be held in English

Each of the Lectures will be divided into two 90 minutes courses and one 90 minutes class discussion and Q&A session.

Besides finishing the required readings, the students are also expected to take active participation in the discussion.


Modalità di verifica dell'apprendimento

There will be a close book final exam, which has 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.


Attività di supporto

The instructor will be available for office hours immediately after each class; students wishing to make an appointment should inform the instructor at the start of class.

Testi consigliati e bibliografia


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




Erasmus students and students with special needs are invited to reach out to the professor at the beginning of the semester so as to make proper arrangements.

Professor Zhang meets students by previous appointment in person and on the Webex platform if needed.
Students are required to schedule the appointment via email ( and by Friday of the previous week.

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