Culture and Society of Taiwan

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
China and Inner Asia Section

Module overview

This module aims to provide students with a broad knowledge base to understand Taiwan's culture and society. Because of its multifaceted cultural and ethnic mix and the complex colonial history, the module looks at Taiwan’s contemporary culture, unpicks the various dimensions of the complicated social change, and considers the colonial legacy and the impact of globalization.  The focus of the module is placed on the highly contentious issue of identity politics of the post-war era. By exploring contemporary Taiwanese cultural change and social development, this course facilitates a solid understanding of the complexity of this place, offers an interesting reference point to think about China and Japan, and provides a better understanding of the greater East Asian society. Because most courses cover China, Japan and Korea, this module can connect the dotted line to form a more complete picture of East Asia.


There are no pre-requisites for this module.  It is also available as an open option module.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will . . .

  1. have a solid knowledge of the major developments of Taiwan’s culture and society, and a good understanding about the  contentious issues and trends in Taiwan;
  2. have a comprehensive knowledge of major issues in Taiwan and a solid theoretical grounding  to engage with  existing literature;
  3. be well informed of the most updated academic debates and scholarly works;
  4. be able to locate and access the information available in both English and Chinese reference materials;
  5. be able to critically examine and analyse the different aspects of Taiwanese life and contemporary development;
  6. have the ability to understand the historical, cultural, and social causes of Taiwan’s identity crisis, to position Taiwan within the East Asian context, and to analyse these issues more critically;
  7. enable students to have some theoretical background and intellectual foundation to analyse cultural and social change more critically.


Total of 10 weeks teaching consisting of a 2 hour lecture per week.

(UG students on this module are invited to attend the extra one hour PG student seminar, but it is not compulsory for UG students).

Scope and syllabus

The topics covered include:

  1. Week 1: Introduction and Historical Overview
  2. Week 2:  Taiwan’s Society and Social Change
  3. Week 3:  Culture and Cultural Politics in Taiwan
  4. Week 4:  Family and Gender*
  5. Week 5:  Ethnicity and Migration*
  6. Week 6:  Reading week
  7. Week 7:  Language and Identity
  8. Week 8:  Education and Ideology
  9. Week 9:  Popular Culture and Globalization*
  10. Week 10:  Mass media & Network Society*
  11. Week 11:  Identity, Place, and National Culture

Method of assessment

  • An essay of 3,000 words (70%)
  • 10 minute presentation (30%)

Suggested reading

  • Williams, Raymond. (1976). Keywords: A Vocabulary of culture and society. London: Fontana.
  • Chang, Bi-yu. (2015). Place, Identity, and National Imagination in Post-war Taiwan. London and New York: Routledge
  • Hall, Stuart. (1990). “Cultural identity and diaspora.” In: Identity: community, culture, difference. Rutherford J. (ed.). London: Lawrence & Wishart. pp. 222-237
  • Murray A. Rubinstein (ed.) (2007). Taiwan: A New History. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe
  • Chiu, Kuei-fen, Dafydd Fell and Lin Ping (eds.). (2014). Migration to and From Taiwan. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, New York : Routledge,  2014, pp. 12-24.
  • Thornton, Arland and Hui-Sheng Lin. (1994). Social Change and the Family in Taiwan, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Bhabha, Homi. (1994).  The Location of Culture. New York: Routledge,
  • Hsiau, A-Chin. (2000). “Contemporary Taiwanese Cultural Nationalism, London and New York: Routledge.Bi-yu Chang and Henning Klöter (eds.) 2012. Imaging and Imagining Taiwan: Identity representation and cultural politics, ed. pp.. 125-145. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules