• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Thomas Cliff
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2018
    See Future Offerings

This course explores the character and structure of modern Chinese society. Family relationships are particularly important, and act as models for other forms of relationship, including for those in business and politics. Starting with the family, the course traces these connections, showing how relationships are powerfully shaped by Chinese laws, social norms and cultural practices. Business, family, and local government case studies illustrate recent changes in Chinese society and allow an understanding of current social debates in China.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the skills and knowledge to

1. Analyze the cultural and practical logics of patrilineal kinship in Chinese settings including the social variability of that practice.
2. Critically examine debates about the place of social connections (guanxi) in Chinese society.
3. Critically examine debates about how Chinese kinship is changing and the causes of that change.
4. Analyze how cultural modes of practice and understanding in one realm of society (kinship) are applied in other settings.
5. Apply analytic approaches to kinship and relatedness to Chinese settings.
6. Critically utilize case studies when arguing analytical points in writing.
7. Summarize, digest and present the contents of analytical readings for a wider audience.

Other Information

This is a co-taught course. Any cap on enrolments in one course applies to both courses combined.

Indicative Assessment

Tutorial Presentations and Essays 40%
Annotated Bibliography for final essay 10%
Final Essay 50% 4000 words 

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


The course will be structured around 30-36 hours of contact time (the equivalent of three hours a week for 10-12 weeks). Reading loads will average roughly 50-70 pages per three hours of contact time.

Preliminary Reading

In addition to journal articles, readings and lectures will draw from some of the following books:

Ba, Jin
1972. Family {a novel}. New York: Cheng and Tsui.

Brandtstadter, Susanne and Goncalo dos Santos eds.
2009. Chinese Kinship: Contemporary Anthropological Perspectives. New York: Routledge.

Fei, Xiaotong
1992. From the Soil: The Foundations of Chinese Society, A Translation of Fei Xiaotong's Xiangtu Zhongguo, trans. Gary Hamilton and Wang Zheng (Berkeley: University of California Press).

Gold, Thomas, Doug Guthrie and David L. Wank (eds)
2002. Social Connections in China: Institutions, Culture and the Changing Nature of Guanxi (New York: Cambridge University Press).

Hillman, Ben
2014. Patronage and Power: Local State Networks and Party-State Resilience in rural China (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press).

Kipnis, Andrew B.
1997. Producing Guanxi: Sentiment, Self, and Subculture in a North China village (Durham, NC: Duke University Press).

Osborg, John
2013. Anxious Wealth: Money and Morality Among China's New Rich (Stanford University Press).

Wolf, Margery
1968. The House of Lim: a study of a Chinese farm family (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall).
1972. Women and the Family in Rural Taiwan (Stanford: Stanford University Press).

Yan, Yunxiang
2003. Private Life Under Socialism: Love, Intimacy and Family Change in a Chinese Village 1949-1999 (Stanford: Stanford University Press).

Yang, Guobin
2009.  The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online. (New York: Columbia University Press).

Yang, Mayfair Mei-hui
1994. Gifts, Favors, and Banquets: The Art of Social Relationships in China. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Zheng, Tiantian
2009. Red Lights: The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press).


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $3180
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $4860
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
10024 23 Jul 2018 30 Jul 2018 31 Aug 2018 26 Oct 2018 In Person N/A

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