I am currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago. I am a sociologist of global social change with particular interests in generations, development, life courses, work, and capitalist transformation. My work is driven by a commitment to understanding how individuals experience rapid social change, and how their life experiences influence work, politics, culture, and socio-economic development. My current and future research explore the relationship between generations and social change.
My dissertation, “The Making of the Chinese Rust Belt: Life, Work, and Social Change in Northeast China, 1950s-2010s,” explores a generational approach for examining the market underdevelopment phenomenon in Northeast China. Challenging the conventional wisdom that China is benefitting overall from the global transfer of manufacturing jobs, my dissertation pinpoints the parallel formation of the "rust belt" phenomenon in China and the United States. I emphasize the decisive role of the sizable post-war baby boom generation (born 1950s-1960s) in shaping the region's political-economic transformation and socio-cultural change. I argue that this generation's disrupted life course and their cumulative experience in the industrial heartland during China's socialist industrialization and market reform bred fatalism, demoralization, disbelief in business activities, mistrust of institutions and rules, and cynicism toward the state. This engendered a "rust belt" culture. My research draws upon original materials collected from 14 months of fieldwork, including over 100 life history interviews, demographic and economic statistics, government and enterprise archives, and local newspapers. You can read more about my dissertation here.
My research has been generously funded by Chiang Ching Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, Paulson Institute, and various institutions at UChicago, such as the Center for International Social Science Research, Center for East Asian Studies, the Social Sciences Division, and the Department of Sociology. My dissertation project has been awarded internal and external prize and fellowships. More recently, it won UChicago's Philip A. Kuhn Dissertation Prize in Chinese Studies as well as the Michael and Ling Markovitz Dissertation Fellowship.
In addition to research, I am interested in teaching courses that address individuals' experiences in social change, such as work and global change, sociology of development, social structure and change, theories of political economy, and sociological theories. I believe classrooms are great places to facilitate the students' and my understandings of the current era we are in and the future we are heading into. You can read more about the courses I have taught at the University of Chicago here.