SOAS University of London

SOAS China Institute

Jieyu Liu

PhD (York, UK)
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Jieyu Liu
SOAS China Institute

Deputy Director, SOAS China Institute

Centre for Gender Studies


Dr Jieyu Liu
Email address:
+44 (0)20 7898 4899
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Brunei Gallery
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On research leave 2016-2020


Dr Liu gained her PhD from the University of York and had taught at Sussex (Gender Studies and Sociology), Glasgow (Sociology) and Leeds (East Asian Studies) before taking up her present post. Trained as a feminist sociologist, Dr Liu specialises in sociology of gender with a regional focus on China and other East Asian societies. She has published widely on gender, sexuality and socio-economic development in China.


PhD Students supervised
  • Biye Gao, Gender, Class and Reproduction in Post-Socialist Rural China (working title)
  • Chiu Wan Liu, Changing Gender-age System in the Digital-era: a Case Study in 'Taobao Village' of China [working title]
I am interested in supervising students seeking to undertake feminist sociological research in China, as well as those wishing to work elsewhere in the world who are interested in the broader themes of gender, sexuality, and development.  


Women and gender in China; gender and work; sexuality and organizations; migration; gender and intergenerational relations; ageing and family transitions; unemployment; social policy and welfare reforms in China. 

Member of UK Economic and Social Research Council Peer Review College
Member of British Sociological Association

Current project
Doing Intimacy: A Multi-sited Ethnography of Modern Chinese Family Life (Principal Investigator, funded by European Research Council, 2015-2020)
This project will provide the first comprehensive study of practices of intimacy in Chinese families, their intertwining with gender and intergenerational dynamics, and interrelations with local and global change. The research will be rooted in case studies of Chinese communities in urban and rural China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. These sites have been selected to bring to the fore how particular socio-economic- political and cultural configurations feature in intimate family practices. The project will provide sophisticated answers to complicated questions such as 'How are Chinese families changing and adapting to wider social changes?' and ‘How do different socio-economic and political configurations shape family behaviours?’

Previous projects
Gender and unemployment in urban China

I explored the gendered implications of economic reforms by collecting the life histories of older women workers who had been made redundant during the economic restructuring.  I examined their experiences in the danwei (work unit) during the pre-reform period in China, and the role the danwei played as arbiter in the career and the personal lives of its employees. I argued that the highly interventionist role of the work unit continued the patriarchal role of pre-socialist institutions in shaping and constraining the life opportunities of women. Indeed, the study has shown that the women workers from the Cultural Revolution Generation had borne the brunt of sufferings accompanying China’s socio-economic development (see Liu 2006, Liu 2007a, Liu 2007b).

White-collar beauties in urban China (Principal Investigator, funded by British Academy 2008)

I examined the sexualization and aestheticization of white-collar work in urban China and identified new forms of inequality in the Chinese workplace. Through ethnography of Chinese companies, I showed that women’s sexuality had become a commercial resource deliberately initiated and developed by their organizations. However, as women’s sexuality was strictly moralized, the Chinese white-collar beauties ended up walking a fine line between respectability and disreputability (see Liu 2008, Liu 2013).

Ageing in rural China (Principal Investigator, funded by Economic and Social Research Council 2011-2013)

This recently completed project examined the impact of rural-urban migration on familial support for older people in rural China. Through in-depth studies of two rural villages, this project examined the extent to which rural-urban migration has reshaped expectations and experiences of familial support in old age and explored whether and how intergenerational relations had been transformed by migration.


For help in contacting SOAS academics and advice on services to business and the community, please contact SOAS Enterprise on +44(0)20 7898 4837 or email
For all press and media enquiries please call +44 (0)20 7898 4135 or email

Available for
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Regional Expertise
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Country Expertise
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Authored Books

Liu, Jieyu (2016) Gender, Sexuality and Power in Chinese Companies: Beauties at Work. Palgrave. (Forthcoming)

Liu, Jieyu (2007) Gender and Work in Urban China: Women Workers of the Unlucky Generation. Routledge. (Contemporary China Series)

Edited Books or Journal Volumes

Liu, Jieyu and Yamashita, Junko, eds. (2017) Routledge Handbook of Gender in East Asia. London: Routledge. (Forthcoming)

Jackson, Stevi and Liu, Jieyu and Mei, Xiao, eds. (2016) Ageing and Intergenerational Relations in Contemporary Chinese Societies. Journal of Chinese Sociology: Springer. (Forthcoming)

Liu, Jieyu, ed. (2014) Social Transformation in China. London: Routledge. (Critical Concepts in Asian Studies)

Zhu, Ying and Liu, Jieyu and Huang, Ya-chien, eds. (2011) 西方女性研究 [Women's Studies in the West]. Beijing: China Renmin University Press.

Jackson, Stevi and Liu, Jieyu and Woo, Juhyun, eds. (2008) East Asian sexualities : modernity, gender and new sexual cultures. London: Zed Books.

Book Chapters

Liu, Jieyu (2015) 'Gender and Sexuality.' In: Zang, Xiaowei, (ed.), Understanding Chinese Society (second edition). London: Routledge, pp. 53-66.

Liu, Jieyu (2013) 'White-collar workers: gender and class politics in an urban organization.' In: Chen, Minglu and Goodman, David, (eds.), Middle Class China: Identity and Behaviour. Cheltenham, UK; Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar, pp. 75-89. (CSC China Perspectives)

Liu, Jieyu (2012) 'Mothers’ Pasts and Daughters’ Presents and Futures: A Cross-generational Exploration of Women’s Work and Aspirations in Urban China.' In: Afshar, H., (ed.), Women and Fluid Identities Strategic and Practical Pathways Selected by Women. Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp. 9-31.

Liu, Jieyu (2011) 'Life goes on: redundant women workers in Nanjing.' In: Carrillo, Beatriz and Duckett, Jane, (eds.), China's Changing Welfare Mix: Local Perspectives. London: Routledge, pp. 82-103. (Routledge Series on China in Transition)

Liu, Jieyu (2011) '中国城镇的社会性别变化与劳动整合的案例分析.' In: Berik, Gunseli and Dong, Xiaoyuan and Summerfield, Gale, (eds.), 中国经济转型与女性经济学. Beijing: Economic Science Press, pp. 104-126.

Liu, Jieyu (2011) '女性与工作.' In: Zhu, Ying and Liu, Jieyu and Huang, Ya-chien, (eds.), 西方女性研究. Beijing: China Renmin University Press, pp. 110-124. (Series on Western Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences)

Takeda, Hiroko and Liu, Jieyu and Yamashita, Junko (2011) 'Economic restructuring and changing work/family life: the cases of Japan and China.' In: Hwang, Gyu-Jin, (ed.), New Welfare States in East Asia: Global Challenges and Restructuring. Cheltenham, UK; Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar, pp. 125-154.

Liu, Jieyu (2009) 'The Stratification of Youth Employment in Contemporary China.' In: Furlong, Andy, (ed.), Handbook of Youth and Young Adulthood: New Perspectives and Agendas. London: Routledge, pp. 182-187. (Routledge International Handbooks)

Liu, Jieyu (2008) 'Sexualized Labour? 'White-collar Beauties' in Provincial China.' In: Jackson, S. and Liu, J. and Woo, J., (eds.), East Asian Sexualities: Modernity, Gender and New Sexual Cultures. London: Zed Books, pp. 85-103.

Jackson, Stevi and Liu, Jieyu and Woo, Juhyun (2008) 'Reflections on Gender, Modernity and East Asian Sexualities.' In: Jackson, S. and Liu, J. and Woo, J., (eds.), East Asian Sexualities: Modernity, Gender and New Sexual Cultures. London: Zed Books, pp. 1-30.

Journal Articles

Liu, Jieyu (2016) 'Ageing in rural China: migration and care circulation.' The Journal of Chinese Sociology, 3 (9). pp. 1-19.

Liu, Jieyu (2016) 'Intimacy and Intergenerational Relations in Rural China.' Sociology. pp. 1-16.

Cook, Joanne and Liu, Jieyu (2016) 'Can ‘distant water … quench the instant thirst’? The renegotiation of familial support in rural China in the face of extensive out migration.' Journal of Aging Studies, 37. pp. 29-39.

Liu, Jieyu (2014) 'Ageing, migration and familial support in rural China.' Geoforum, 51. pp. 305-312.

Liu, Jieyu (2007) 'Gender dynamics and redundancy in urban China.' Feminist Economics, 13 (3-4). pp. 125-158.

Liu, Jieyu (2006) 'Researching Chinese Women's Lives: 'Insider' Research and Life History Interviewing.' Oral History, 34 (1). pp. 43-52.

Liu, Jieyu (2004) 'Holding Up the Sky? Reflections on Marriage in Contemporary China.' Feminism & Psychology, 14 (1). pp. 195-202.


Liu, Jieyu (2015) 'Gender Inequalities at Work in Urban China.' University of Nottingham China Policy Institute Blog .

Liu, Jieyu (2015) '点评中国:中国延迟退休不能一刀切.' BBC Chinese Column .

Liu, Jieyu (2015) 'An Age-Old Question.' Focus (48). China-Britain Business Council. pp. 6-7.

Liu, Jieyu (2014) 'Ageing, Migration and Intergenerational Relations in Rural China.' Discovery Society [Online] (12). British Sociological Association.

Liu, Jieyu (2013) 'Ageing and Migration in Rural China.' East Asia in 2013: A Region in Transition . Asia-Pacific Research Group, Foreign and Commonwealth Office. pp. 22-25.

This list was generated on Sun Oct 23 00:35:11 2016 BST.