Social change in China: a China Studies Centre event

5 August 2011

Two new books on the impact of rapidly changing social conditions in China, written by academics from the University of Sydney's China Studies Centre, will be launched on 9 August at the University.

The China Studies Centre, launched earlier this year, is an important cross-disciplinary initiative that draws experts together from across the University's academic disciplines to study and create a better understanding of contemporary China.

It was recently profiled by the Newsline program on the ABC's Australia Network (follow link, then click 'Studying China').

One of those experts, Dr Minglu Chen from the Department of Government and International Relations, discusses the situation of women entrepreneurs in China, including issues of ownership and leadership, in her new book Tiger Girls: Women and Enterprise in the People's Republic of China.

"My book shows that women are playing a more active and significant role in China's economic development than currently thought. This is in spite of gender inequality for women during China's reform years," Dr Chen said.

At this special Sydney Ideas and Chinese Studies Centre co-hosted event, Dr Chen will talk about the deeper realities of women entrepreneurs in China, and by extension the role of women leaders in the workforce. Dr Chen's book is based on almost 200 interviews with women entrepreneurs across China.

Small Town China: Rural Labour and Social Inclusion by Dr Beatriz Carrillo will be launched at the same event.

"A lot has been written about rural migrant workers' experiences in the big cities but population movements into China's vast network of towns and small cities have been largely neglected," Dr Carillo said.

Since the early 1980s more than a 100 million people have moved from the countryside into towns and cities. China's urban system has 668 cities and towns, of which only 160 have over one million people.

"Rural workers who move to towns instead of big cities still face challenges but my book suggests that China's transformation may not necessarily result in dysfunctional and socially polarised urban environments."

The book presents a detailed case study of rural migrant workers experiences in a small town in a north China county providing a window onto this widespread phenomenon in China. It looks at rural workers' immersion into a small town's labour market, their access to welfare benefits and to social services, such as housing, education and health.

Dr Carrillo is also the co-editor with Jane Duckett, Professor of Chinese and Comparative Politics at the University of Glasgow, of China's Changing Welfare Mix: Local Perspectives, which will also be launched at the event.

All three books will be launched by Professor Maurizio Marinelli, Director of the Centre for Social and Cultural Change in China Investment at the University of Technology, Sydney, who will then lead a discussion with the authors on their research findings.


Dr Minglu Chen is currently Australian Research Council Postgraduate Research Fellow in the Department of Givernment and International Relations at the University of Sydney and will be an academic staff member in the China Studies Centre in June 2012. Her research concentrates on social and political change in China, especially state-society relationships. Minglu received her PhD from the University of Technology, Sydney and has taught at Peking University in China and University of Guadalajara in Mexico.

Dr Beatriz Carrillo Garcia is originally from Mexico. She completed her first degree in International Relations at the TEC de Monterrey (ITESM). She lived, studied and worked in Japan and China, before coming to Australia to undertake her doctoral studies. She completed her PhD at UTS in 2006 with the doctoral thesis New Urban Space in China: Towns, Rural Labour and Social Inclusion. She is currently a lecturer in China Studies in the University of Sydney's Department of Sociology and Social Policy.

The University of Sydney's China Studies Centre provides coordination and direction to the study of China and Chinese culture at the University. Around 130 University of Sydney academic staff are engaged in the study of China. Through its 16 academic groups, the China Studies Centre facilitates cross-disciplinary collaboration between these academics. In addition to supporting research and scholarship, the Centre teaches several postgraduate programs in China Studies and interacts with business, government and community activities concerned with the study of China in both China and Australia.

This event is part of the China Studies Distinguished Lecture Series 2011.

Event details

What: Social Change in China

When: 6 to 7.30pm, Tuesday 9 August

Where: Foyer, New Law Building, Camperdown Campus. See map and directions

Cost: Free, no booking required

Contact: Verity Leatherdale

Phone: 02 9351 4312

Email: 2214342b1a2e7b071c0a3d0017232b2425170a1a32363928165a15342244271f