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Understanding Chinese Society

Edited by Xiaowei Zang

Routledge – 2012 – 196 pages

Purchasing Options:

  • Add to CartPaperback: $49.95
    October 9th 2011
  • Add to CartHardback: $150.00
    October 9th 2011


As China gains power – economically, politically, and militarily – and interaction between the Chinese and people outside China increases, it becomes more and more important that we understand the social factors that influence the daily lives of China's population.

This new introductory textbook is suitable for all students taking a course on Chinese society. It presents both historical and contemporary contexts and the latest available research findings. With chapters covering many key aspects of life in China – including religion, social policy, and welfare, the history and impact of the Chinese Communist Party, familial relationships, ethnicity, gender, the media and the education system – this textbook gives the reader a user-friendly and comprehensive introduction to the most important issues affecting Chinese society today. It also includes handy pedagogical features such as a chronology of the People's Republic of China, further reading suggestions, and related novels, films, and autobiographies.

Armed with such a book, readers will not only gain a deeper understanding of Chinese society, but a rewarding appreciation for the people, cultures, and social organizations of the world's most populous country.

Written by a team of contributors from the UK, China, Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong, Understanding Chinese Society is suitable for anyone studying Chinese Society, Chinese Studies and Asian sociology.


'Chinese Society is undergoing powerful transformation with economic restructuring, growth and global interaction. This collection of essays on different aspects of that transformation provides an excellent introduction to the structures and dynamics of Chinese society that will be of inestimable value to teachers and students alike.' Professor David S G Goodman, University of Sydney, Australia.

'There has long been a need for an up-to-date textbook such as Understanding Chinese Society, in which leading scholars cover major developments in China's rapidly changing society. The individual chapters in Zang Xiaowei's edited volume do an excellent job in providing a basic overview of the most important areas of Chinese social life, whilst also addressing continuities and differences from pre-1949 and Maoist China. It should be welcomed for a variety of courses on Chinese politics and society, as well as general education and sociology courses where China is placed in a comparative perspective.' Stanley Rosen, Director of the East Asian Studies Center and Professor of Political Science, University of Southern California, USA.

'This is a most welcome book. The chapters probe various facets of contemporary Chinese life in a refreshing open and honest fashion. The analysis is fair, balance, and, at times, astute. The book is designed to appeal to undergraduates but I suspect it will be useful to graduate students and their advisors as well. Highly recommended.' William Jankowiak, Professor of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA.

'This book is an ideal text for undergraduate courses on China as well as an excellent introduction to any reader who is interested in knowing more about China. It includes many interesting topics such as family, gender, community, religion, ethnicity, education, work, the mass media, and state-society relationship; it is clearly written and highly readable; and it addresses the continuity and change of contemporary Chinese society and politics.' Professor Alvin Y. So, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

'This book draws on the excellent work of many well-known China scholars from all over the world. It provides a comprehensive and valuable reference for students and scholars specializing in Chinese studies, particularly relating to the changes and transformation of the Chinese economy, people, politics and social behavior in the last few decades. Highly recommended.' Shujie Yao, Professor of Economics & Chinese Sustainable Development Head of School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, University of Nottingham, UK.

'[This book] offers a sufficient range of information and insight to provoke thoughts among sociologists and Sinologists while simultaneously providing the general and curious reader a sound foundation upon which to make deeper research into on the different topics covered in the book – topics relevant towards forming a better understanding of Chinese society today and in relation to its past and future development.' - Mr Timo Heroth; Asia Pacific Business Review, June 2013.


1. Introduction, Xiaowei Zang 2. Sources of Chinese identity, Marjorie Dryburgh 3. Rituals and the life cycle, Lucy Zhao 4. Family and marriage, Xiaowei Zang 5. Gender and sexuality, Jieyu Liu 6. Contested ground: Community and neighbourhood, Chunrong Liu 7. Education, Gerard Postiglione 8. Status and Hierarchy, Qian Forrest Zhang 9. Ethnic minorities, Colin Mackerras 10. Religious influence in China, Yunfeng Lu 11. From socialism to capitalism: Transformation of work, Yi-min Lin 12. The mass media, Xiaoling Zhang 13. Government and changing state-society relations, Xiaowei Zang

Author Bio

Xiaowei Zang is Professor of Chinese Studies and Head of the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield, UK.

Name: Understanding Chinese Society (Paperback)Routledge 
Description: Edited by Xiaowei Zang. As China gains power – economically, politically, and militarily – and interaction between the Chinese and people outside China increases, it becomes more and more important that we understand the social factors that influence the...
Categories: Chinese Studies, Asian Culture & Society, Chinese Culture & Society, Chinese History, Chinese Politics