Working in no-man's-land: between sociology and Chinese studies

Dr Norman Stockman, Department of Sociology, University of Aberdeen

A China Studies Centre Distinguished Speaker lecture

12 March

The relationships between disciplines and area studies have been much discussed and disputed since the establishment of area studies centres from the 1940s. Many contributions to these debates have concentrated either on (meta-) theoretical issues or on political considerations, notably the geo-political impetus behind the support given to area studies in post-war USA. Some participants in these discussions also mention institutional factors, especially those of higher education, that have had effects on discipline-area studies relationships.

In this lecture, Professor Norman Stockman will draw partly on his own experience, as a sociologist who became active in Chinese studies, to explore a range of such institutional factors. He is particularly concerned to understand why the study of Chinese society has not been more fruitfully incorporated into the 'mainstream' of sociology more generally, an issue which has also been remarked upon in relation to other disciplines, such as anthropology, political science, and the history of science.

Image for Norman Stockman lecture

Dr Norman Stockman is a British sociologist with a particular interest in China. He has worked with Chinese sociologists on several collaborative research projects. These include a comparative study of women's work and family life in China, Japan, Britain and the USA, resulting in the book Women's Work in East and West, with Norman Bonney and Sheng Xuewen (1995), and a project on rural-urban migration in Shanghai. He has also written on social inequality in China, and is the author of Understanding Chinese Society, a general survey of the sociology of Chinese society (2000). From 1989 to 2005, his teaching included an advanced undergraduate option course on Chinese Society, and he also supervised PhD research on aspects of Chinese society. From 2000 to 2005 he contributed to the postgraduate course leading to the Master of Chinese Studies at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. He is a founder member and Honorary President of the University of Aberdeen Chinese Studies Group, and served as Honorary Secretary of the British Association for Chinese Studies (BACS) from September 2005 to September 2011. He now has an emeritus position in the Department of Sociology, University of Aberdeen.