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DAFF 2115A - Key debates and perspectives on contemporary China

Type d'enseignement : Elective

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


There are no formal prerequisites for taking this course, other than a strong interest in the subject and the willingness to learn hard. Previous background in modern Chinese affairs and theories of comparative politics is an asset, but not a prerequisite.

Course Description

Since Deng Xiaoping's launch of an era of 'reform and opening-up', the People's Republic of China is changing at a very fast pace. Transition to market economy has led to major – and sometimes sudden – changes within society. These changes confirm many key theories in the field of social sciences, but also contradict some of them. It is precisely through theoretical debates in economic history, comparative politics and sociology that the course proposes to study major changes occurring from 1978 to present day in China. The course will provide the opportunity to discuss the relationship between economic development and political system, economic development and social interactions, in light of the Chinese context (legitimacy of the Communist Party, shaping of a civil society, new consumption behaviors, rural-urban gaps, etc.). At the end of the course, students will have gained an exposure to theories of reference in the field of social sciences and most of all a personal appreciation of their relevance in the Chinese case, based on a solid understanding of the country's current situation and challenges.


EKMAN, Alice (Chercheur, responsable des activités Chine)

Course validation

Continuous assessment in class. The assessment will consist of an oral presentation, a 1500-words essay and the completion of weekly reading and discussion. All carry equal weight. Teaching is interactive, as much in-class discussion will be held as time permits.

Required reading

  • BROWN, Kerry, Contemporary China, Palgrave, 2013
  • MITTER, Rana, Modern China – A very short introduction, Oxford University Press, 2008
  • SAICH, Tony, Governance and Politics of China (3rd Edition), Palgrave, 2011

Additional required reading

All weekly readings are sent by email to the class at the beginning of the semester. The reading material includes China related articles as well as a minority of theoretical analyses in the fields of comparative politics, sociology, anthropology and economic history.