East Asian Languages and Cultures | Contemporary Chinese Society
E204 | 21317 | Michelson


Topic: Contemporary Chinese Society and Change

The goal of this class is modest but, I believe, exciting: to allow
you to acquire a basic social, cultural, and historical "literacy"
of contemporary China (defined loosely as Chinese society since the
establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949). The major
emphasis will be on the fundamental units of social organization in
China -- the family, the workplace, neighborhoods, and cities and
villages (the urban/rural divide) -- and how they have changed over
the past fifty years. My aim is to demystify China, to make it
accessible to you, and to give you the basic tools and motivation to
pursue further engagement with China -- be it through language
study, travel, a higher-level class on China, or any other form. The
main topics covered include the origins and consequences of (1)
China’s large population, (2) the challenges of rural development,
(3) China’s ethnic and religious diversity, (4) the widening gap
between rich and poor, (5) the rise of private ownership (both
private business and home ownership), (6) the expansion of legal
institutions (courts and law firms), (7) the changing character of
the labor market, (8) the changing structure and meaning of family,
(9) new forms of popular culture, and (10) the consumer revolution.

This class assumes no prior knowledge of China. (Indeed, another
goal of this class is to help remedy the imbalance between what
Americans know about China and what people in China know about the
US.) Course materials will include journal articles, book chapters,
and films.

Credit given for only one of SOC S101 and EALC E101 and EALC E204 on
this topic.