Course Code


Course Name

Social Issues and Problems in Contemporary China


Wednesday 10:30am - 1:15pm


CKB 122


Dr. Marie Bellot

Teaching Assistant

GUO Ningxi 

Course Description

This course examines key social issues and problems in contemporary China, exploring their historical roots, cultural contexts, and impacts on individuals and society. The course covers China’s historical context, major sociopolitical changes, and its global positioning.

Through a sociological lens, students will analyse main issues at the core of Chinese social transformation in the last decades, such as urbanisation and rural urban migration, examining their impact on social structures and the urban rural divide. Gender and family dynamics will be explored, emphasizing changing gender roles, family structures, the consequences of the one child policy, and the current trend toward an ageing society. The course also delves into social inequality, focusing on income disparity, social mobility, and rural urban wealth gaps. Finally, among other, environmental challenges, including industrialization, pollution, and government policies, are explored.

Students will be guided to investigate critically social issues and problems through classic writings in the field of sociology, and more recent academic writings specific on social issues and problems in contemporary China.

Course Outline

Week 1 (10 January): Introduction – Sociological Approach to Social Problems and Issues

Week 2 (17 January): Evolution of the Communist Party and State since 1978

Week 3 (24 January): Urbanization and Rural-Urban Migration

Week 4 (31 January): Rural Issues

Week 5 (7 February): Social Inequality and Class Structure

Week 6 (21 February): Education and Social Mobility

Week 7 (28 February): Gender Inequalities and Discrimination 

Week 8 (13 March): Family Structure and Dynamics

Week 9 (20 March):  Demography and Ageing Society

Week 10 (27 March): Public Health Issues 

Week 11 (3 April): Social Transition Social Movement, and Collective Action

Week 12 (10 April): Environmental Challenges 

Week 13 (17 April): Internet, Technology and Digitalised Society

Assessment & Assignments

Class participation 30%

Individual presentations of the week’s assigned readings 20%

Term paper 50%

Honesty in Academic Work

Students should submit written assignments to the Veriguide system, print out the Veriguide receipt and scan it into a PDF file before submitting to the Blackboard. See the website: Any cases of plagiarism will be severely penalized and reported to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, which could result in failure or expulsion from the University.