I joined the faculty of the Department of Sociology at Harvard in fall 2000, after previously teaching at the University of Michigan and George Washington University. In a sense it is a homecoming for me, since I did my graduate work at Harvard in the 1960s, with many hours logged in William James Hall. To learn more about my personal and academic history, please consult my Personal Background Statement. For a Chinese interview about my background and research, see Chinese Interview. For more details on my scholarly publications and other activities, please consult my Curriculum Vitae.
My primary research and teaching specialties are comparative sociology, sociology of the family, sociology of development, the sociological study of contemporary China, and the study of post-communist transitions. My recent writings reflect these divergent interests: an edited volume entitled Marriage in America: A Communitarian Perspective (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000) and an edited collection of papers drawing on a survey project that focused on relations between aging parents and their grown children in urban Chinese families, entitled China's Revolutions and Inter-Generational Relations (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies, 2003). One newer research project involves surveys on Chinese popular perceptions of inequality trends and views about distributive justice issues. A pilot survey for this project was successfully conducted in Beijing in December 2000. A national survey focusing on inequality and distributive justice issues was completed in the summer of 2004. The results of the 2004 survey have been published in my book, Myth of the Social Volcano (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010) as well as in a number of recent articles (see Publications link). In the fall of 2009 colleagues and I directed a five-year follow-up national survey of Chinese Popular attitudes toward current inequalities. We will be using data from the new survey to examine whether recent trends,including the global financial meltdown,have made Chinese citizens more or less critical of the market-based inequalities within which they now live, Also, in 2006 I organized a conference at Harvard's Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies on the rural-urban gap in China, and I subsequently edited the resulting conference volume: One Country,Two Societies: Rural-Urban Inequality in Contemporary China (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010).
Since coming to Harvard, I have taught a range of courses reflecting my interests and research. At the undergraduate level I regularly teach a course on social life in contemporary China and a course on the American family. At the graduate level I have offered a seminar on contemporary Chinese society focused on issues of inequality and stratification, a seminar on the sociology of families and kinship, and a seminar on the sociology of economic development. Iam currently offering modified versions of two of my undergraduate course offerings through Harvard's General Education program: Societies of the World21: China's Two Social Revolutions and United States in the World 21: American Family