SOAS University of London

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Contemporary Chinese Society

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2
Taught in:
Term 1

What are the political and institutional underpinnings of China’s rise as a global power? How has the country’s rapid economic development shaped the social and cultural fabric of Chinese society? Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this module offers a critical overview of changes occurring in the late 20th century Chinese culture and society. It explores processes of change and continuity in the People’s Republic through various topics, including the rural-urban divide, women and migration, ethnic and racial discourses, cross-strait relations and Chinese internet culture.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a clear knowledge about the discourses dominating present-day Chinese culture and society.

  • Demonstrate a critical awareness of present-day China

  • Bibliographic research methods in relation to contemporary China

  • Successfully gain the cultural and societal knowledge for their year abroad 


Total taught hours: 20 hours. 1 hours lecture and 1 hour seminar per week for 10 weeks.

Independent study: 130 hours

Total hours for module: 150 hours

Scope and syllabus

This module is designed to look at Chinese (popular) culture and society. Specific topics to be dealt with include:

  • Class in contemporary China
  • Changes of gender roles
  • The rural-urban divide
  • Identity and minority issues
  • Cross-strait relations and cyber nationalism

Method of assessment

  • Outline and bibliography (1500 words) 30%
  • Essay (2500 words) 70%

Suggested reading

Core Reading

  • Bailey, Paul G. Women and Gender in Twentieth-Century China. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

  • Goodman, David S. G. Class in Contemporary China. Cambridge, UK, Polity Press, 2014.

  • Mullaney, Thomas. Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China. University of California Press, 2010.

  • Yang, Guobin. The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online. Columbia University Press, 2011


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules