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SOAS China Institute

Dr Jieyu Liu

PhD (York, UK)


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
Office No:
Office Hours:
Mondays, 3-4pm


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.


Programmes Convened
Courses Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Biye Gao, Exploring Chinese Mothers' Reproductive Agency (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.


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Available for
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Press
  • Briefings
  • Special Study Programmes
  • Short Term Consultancy
  • Long Term Consultancy
Regional Expertise
  • East Asia
Country Expertise
  • China
  • Chinese Mandarin
  • English