In the Process of Modernization: Local Society in Contemporary China

In the Process of Modernization: Local Society in Contemporary China

Spring 2015
Zhejiang University



Prof. WU Yanhong

School of Humanities
Research Area:Ln the Process of Modernization: Local Society in Contemporary China


Course Description

This course is designed to survey a broad range of topics in Chinese rural society. The premise of this course is that China is composed of an extensive network of small, predominantly agricultural communities. These communities are undergoing rapid changes when China is going through the process of modernization. An understanding of these changing communities is a necessary component of the study of contemporary Chinese society.  Through lectures, readings, discussions, and field trips, this course will allow students to explore all aspects of this local society of China, including: local institutions, culture and daily lives, and various social problems.  Both historical and sociological approaches would be employed to understand the process of modernization, communities, and inequalities. At the end of this course, students are expected to be able to adopt a fresh perspective, the perspective of rural communities and their members, to achieve a better understanding of contemporary China.

Course Goals:

To understand the basic issues of rural communities of contemporary Chinese society.
To understand both the classic studies and the questions that are currently being debated in the field.
To understand contemporary Chinese society from the perspective of the rural and local communities and their members.
To compare and contrast the social issues facing rural communities in China and their counterparts in other societies. 
To develop the capacity of connecting the present and the past in understanding various social issues.

Course Requirements:

Attendance and Class participation
Class attendance is mandatory. Active class participation is expected of each student and will be rewarded by the instructor in her discretion.
Reading, topic writing, and discussions
Students are expected to complete assigned readings before coming to class.  When coming to class, remember to bring all the assigned reading materials with you. Based on the readings, identify two issues you would like to address further in class discussions.
Each student will have several chances to lead the class discussions.  He or she would collect the issues each student brings to the class and facilitate the discussions (see guidelines attached to the syllabus, sign-up sheet will be handed out separately).
Students will write a 3- page essay on each of the three main topics to summarize what has been covered and what you want to discuss further.
Research, Presentation, and Paper
Select a rural society related topic that interests you and do your research. At the end of the semester, report your research to the class by delivering a 15-minute powerpoint presentation. Based on your research and the feedbacks from the class, write a 15 page (double-spaced) research paper (see instructions attached to the syllabus).


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