• Class Number 4425
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Thomas Cliff
    • Dr Thomas Cliff
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/02/2019
  • Class End Date 31/05/2019
  • Census Date 31/03/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
SELT Survey Results

A large body of scholarship now addresses a range of questions about social relatedness in China: What does kinship consist of in China and how is it changing?  How have patrilineal kinship imaginaries shaped the place of women in Chinese families?  What is the relationship of love and practicality in romantic relationships?  How are relationships formed outside of the family in business and politics and how do these types of relationships draw on the form and content of kin relations?  How have urbanization and new communication technologies shaped practices of relationship formation?  China is an important reference point for the study of social relationships both because of scholarly debates about the uniqueness of the practices used to form social relationships there and because Chinese society is changing so rapidly. This course will introduce sociological and anthropological methods and analytics for the study of social relationships while examining the cultural forms of relatedness in Chinese social worlds.  The place of kinship imaginaries in everyday ethics and social practice will be emphasized.

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. Comprehend the cultural and practical logics of patrilineal kinship in Chinese settings including the social variability of that practice.
2. Summarize debates about the place of social connections (guanxi) in Chinese society.
3. Summarize debates about how Chinese kinship is changing and the causes of that change.
4. Show how cultural modes of practice and understanding in one realm of society (kinship) are applied in other settings.
5. Utilize case studies when arguing analytical points in writing.
6. Present the contents of readings for a wider audience.

Research-Led Teaching

The convener and guest lecturers in this course conduct long-term fieldwork in China as one of their primary research methodologies. Each lecture will draw on years of active study and unique personal experience, and work these experiences in with the pre-eminent pieces of published research on the given topic and current debates in the topic sub-area.

Required Resources

The House of Lim, by Margery Wolf (see week one, other information).

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • Written comments (private)
  • Verbal comments (private)
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Week 1 February 25 : Theories and Terminologies of Relatedness An Introduction to Anthropological Notions of Kinship We will also go over course requirements. I recommend that students immediately get a hold of a copy of The House of Lim by Margery Wolf (ISBN-10: 0133949737; ISBN-13: 978-0133949735). You may order inexpensive second-hand copies from amazon.com in the US. You should order the book in advance as it is not available through the bookstore. One copy will be placed on 2 day reserve in the Menzies library but this may not be convenient for you, especially if many people in the course attempt to read it at the same time.
2 Week 2 March 5: The Dynamics and Practice of Chinese Patriliny Mandatory Reading: First 100 pages of The House of Lim, meaning all content up to and including chapter 7. The Preface and Foreword are important.
3 Week 3 March 12: Lecture: Women in Patrilineal, Virilocal Kinship ASSESSMENT: Role-play (in-class). ?Mandatory Reading: 1). Finish reading The House of Lim.
4 Week 4 March 19: Modernization and Kinship norms; Patrilineal thinking in wider society Mandatory Readings: 1) Judd, Ellen R. 1992. "Land Divided, Land United." The China Quarterly (130): 338-356. 2) Fong, Vanessa L. 2002. China's One-Child Policy and the Empowerment of Urban Daughters. American Anthropologist104(4): 1098-1109.
5 Week 5 March 26: Familial Ritual: Weddings, Romance, Funerals Mandatory Readings: 1) Fang, I-chieh. 2015. "Family Dynamics after Migration in Post-Mao Rural China." In Anthropology of this Century. http://aotcpress.com/articles/family-dynamics-migration-postmao-rural-china/, Vol. 12. London. 2) Yan, Yunxiang. 1997. "The Triumph of Conjugality: Structural Transformation of Family Relations in a Chinese Village." Ethnology 36(3): 191-212.
6 Week 6 April 2: Art of Guanxi Note: April 9 and April 16 are off for mid-semester break. Mandatory Readings: 1) Gold, Thomas, Doug Guthrie and David L. Wank (eds). 2002. “An Introduction to the Study of Guanxi,” in Social Connections in China: Institutions, Culture and the Changing Nature of Guanxi (New York: Cambridge University Press): 3€“20. 2) Kipnis, Andrew B. 1996. "Managing Guanxi in a North China Village." Modern China 22(3): 285-314.
7 Week 7 April 23: Guanxi in Government ASSESSMENT: Short Essays Due. Brief Presentation of Major Essay topics in Class. Mandatory Readings: 1) Hillman, Ben. 2010. "Factions and Spoils: Examining Political Behavior within the Local State in China." The China Journal (64): 1-18. 2) Smith, Graeme. 2009. "Political Machinations in a Rural County." The China Journal (62): 29-60.
8 Week 8 April 30: Guanxi in Business Mandatory Readings: 1) Tsai, Kellee S. 2000. "Banquet Banking: Gender and Rotating Savings and Credit Associations in South China." The China Quarterly (161):142-170. 2) Wank, David L. 2002. "Business-State Clientelism in China: Decline or Evolution." In Social Connections in China: Institutions, Culture and the Changing Nature of Guanxi. T. Gold, D. Guthrie, and D.L. Wank, eds. pp. 97-115. New York: Cambridge University Press.
9 Week 9 May 7: Gender and Guanxi. Familial Relations and Social Control. Friendship Mandatory Readings: 1) Kipnis, Andrew B. 2002. "Zouping Christianity as Gendered Critique? The Place of the Political in Ethnography." Anthropology and Humanism 27(1): 80-96. 2) Deng, Yanhua, and Kevin J. O'Brien. 2013. "Relational Repression in China: Using Social Ties to Demobilize Protesters." The China Quarterly 215: 533-552. doi:10.1017/S0305741013000714.
10 Week 10 May 14: The Chinese Corporate Group: Lineage, Village, and Native-Place Mandatory Readings: 1) Goodman, Bryna. 1995. “Introduction: The Moral Excellence of Loving the Group,” in Native Place, City, and Nation: Regional Networks and Identities in Shanghai, 1853-1937. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2) Goodman, Bryna. 1995. Chapter 4 “Expansive Practices,” in Native Place, City, and Nation: Regional Networks and Identities in Shanghai, 1853-1937. Berkeley: University of California Press.
11 Week 11 May 21: Student Presentations ASSESSMENT: Major Essay topic presentations Each Student will make a presentation about his or her final essay topic. The presentation will count for 5% of the total score for the course.
12 Week 12 May 28: (Student Presentations continued, if need be). Essay writing workshop. The essay writing workshop will aim to help the students to finesse the essays from a structural perspective. The content and argument is to be developed over the course of the semester. This workshop may alternatively be held before the student presentations (in the second half of week 10), if that suits the majority of students.

Tutorial Registration

There is no separate tutorial. The tutorial is integrated with the lecture in a seminar style arrangement totalling three hours per week, 0900 – 1200 on Tuesdays in semester.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Role-play of _The House of Lim_ (10%) 10 % 12/03/2019 12/03/2019 1,2,3,4,5,7
Tutorial Presentations and Critical Summaries (35%) 35 % 19/03/2019 26/03/2019 1,2,3,4,5,7
Short Essay (15%) 15 % 23/04/2019 30/04/2019 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Final Essay (40%) 40 % 07/06/2019 28/06/2019 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Students are expected to participate in the in-class discussion. As each student is required to make a critical summary of the readings each week (weeks 4 – 10), everybody will have at least a couple of points to make.


There will be no examinations in this course.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 12/03/2019
Return of Assessment: 12/03/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,7

Role-play of _The House of Lim_ (10%)

Due Week 3

This is a group exercise involving all of the students in the class, in groups of between four and seven people. Students will act out a scene of their own choice from the book The House of Lim. Following the role-play performance, students will orally explain the motivations of each of the characters that they choose to portray.


These explanations will be based on that particular character’s actions in other sections of the book, as well as that character’s position within the family—how is the old man expected to act? How is the adopted daughter expected to act? How is the first son expected to act? And how do these people act in the book? Do their actions diverge from the culturally- and structurally- based expectations?

Feedback will be given in class.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 19/03/2019
Return of Assessment: 26/03/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,7

Tutorial Presentations and Critical Summaries (35%)

Due weekly, Weeks 4 – 10 ( March 5 – May 14)


For the middle seven sessions of the course (weeks 4–10), ALL students will need to either make a 5-7 minute oral presentation on the two mandatory readings OR submit a 250-300 word critical summary of the mandatory readings.


The exact number of presentations that each student does will depend upon the number of students in the class. At least one student will present each week and lead the class in discussion that same week. In their presentations, students may refer to additional literature on the topic more broadly.


Each summary/presentation is worth 5 points for a total of 35 points (35% of the final grade) for the seven sessions.


Feedback on the oral presentations and the student's leading of class discussion will be provided in class. Feedback on the written critical summaries will be provided before the following week's class.


This prompt feedback will enable students to improve their next oral presentation/critical summary, and will mean that 25% of the total course assessment will be graded, and feedback provided, before the midsemester break.



Assessment Task 3

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 23/04/2019
Return of Assessment: 30/04/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Short Essay (15%)

Due Week 7 (first week back after mid semester break, April 23)


The short essay is worth 15 points, or 15% of the ?nal grade. Short essay topics are to be discussed with the lecturer and decided on by week five (March 26).

The essay is to be turned in via Wattle/Turnitin BEFORE 9 AM on Tuesday, April 23, 2019.


Feedback on the short essays will be provided before and during the following week's class, and will be geared towards improving students’ writing style and analytical capacity.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 07/06/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Final Essay (40%)

Presentation of essay topic/argument (5%): Due in class Week 11 (May 21)

Essay (35%): Due 12 noon, June 7


Students will write a 2500 word essay on a topic of their choice that is approved by the lecturer. The topic cannot be the same as that done by the student for the short essay.


In the final two classes (May 21 and May 28) students will make an oral presentation about their topic.


The total number of points for this assignment is 40, of which 5 will be for the oral presentation and 35 will be for the essay itself.


The essay is to be turned in via Wattle/Turnitin BEFORE 12 noon on Friday, June 7, 2019.

Feedback on the presentation will be given in class, and will be geared towards improving all students' presentation technique and improving the individual student's final essay.


Feedback on the final essay after semester ends will be available on request.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

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.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Dr Thomas Cliff
6125 0152

Research Interests

China. Entrepreneurs and private enterprise. Family and lineage. 

Institutions of production, market, and social order.

Charity. State structures and mobilisation. Non-state welfare and public goods. 

Dr Thomas Cliff

Tuesday 13:00 14:00
Dr Thomas Cliff
6125 0152

Research Interests

Dr Thomas Cliff

Tuesday 13:00 14:00

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions