• Class Number 3978
  • Term Code 3130
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Tom Cliff
    • Dr Tom Cliff
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2021
  • Class End Date 28/05/2021
  • Census Date 31/03/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
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

Research-led teaching: The convener of this course conducts long-term fieldwork in China as a primary research methodology. 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.

Explicate a conceptual understanding of Chinese society based on key social actors and their attributed roles, as well as likely divergences from those roles.

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 Feb 24: Chinese Kinship in Comparative Context Beautiful Reading, Beautiful Writing (BRBW): Introduction to the Minimanual of the Essay Writer. An Introduction to Anthropological Notions of Kinship, and to Chinese 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. READ: The House of Lim by Margery Wolf. Wolf, Margery 1968 The House of Lim: A Study of a Chinese Farm Family. New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts. Preliminary reading (Mandatory, before first class): First 100 pages of The House of Lim, meaning all content up to and including chapter 7, including the Preface and Foreword. A photocopy of this content is on Wattle. Also available to borrow online at Internet Archive: https://archive.org/stream/houseoflimstudyo00 wolfrich#page/22/mode/2up NO TUTORIAL PRESENTATION
2 Week 2 March 3: Women and Alternative Visions of the Family Beautiful Reading, Beautiful Writing (BRBW): How to write a Critical Summary. Key points of North 1990. Selected excerpts from Wolf 1968. ASSESSMENT: Role-play (in-class). 10% Mandatory Reading: Finish reading The House of Lim. MA Reads: North, Douglass 1990. Ch1, in Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance. Cambridge University Press.pp3-10. NO TUTORIAL PRESENTATION
3 Week 3 March 10: Lineage and Governance Beautiful Reading, Beautiful Writing (BRBW): Szonyi 2002 [REVIEWS by Crossley and Watson] Explicate theory in Zito 1987 and Szonyi 2017 readings, specifically: Hegemony (vs Ideology) Ritual (Week 4) ASSESSMENT: Critical Summary 1 Mandatory Readings: Szonyi, Michael 2017 “Introduction” and “Ch1” in The Art of Being Governed: Everyday Politics in Late Imperial China, Princeton University Press. pp1–63. All Tutorial Presenters also read MAPS students’ additional reading. MA Reads: Zito, Angela 1987 "City Gods, Filiality, and Hegemony in Late Imperial China." Modern China 13(3, July): 333–371. TUTORIAL PRESENTATION—Class briefing on Zito 1987, picking out the argument and highlighting the themes and concepts (E.g. hegemony, ritual).
4 Week 4 March 17: Weddings, Gods, and Gangsters: Rituals Familial and Bureaucratic Beautiful Reading, Beautiful Writing (BRBW): Boretz themes Bell on Ritual (The importance of ritual, and the references that religious and social rituals make to the family.) ASSESSMENT: Critical Summary 2 Mandatory Readings: Boretz, Avron 2011. Ch1 “Introduction” and Ch2 “Violence, Honor, and Manhood,” in Gods, Ghosts and Gangsters: Ritual Violence, Martial Arts and Masculinity on the Margins of Chinese Society. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, pp1–57. (Intro, key section pp8–17.) Theory/Conceptual Bell, Catherine 2009 [1992]. Ch7 “Ritual Control,” in Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice. New York, Oxford University Press, pp171–181. MA Reads: Bell, Catherine 2009 [1992]. Ch9 “The Power of Ritualization,” in Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice. New York, Oxford University Press, pp197–223. TUTORIAL PRESENTATION— Summary of Bell Excerpt vis-à-vis Boretz (pick out Boretz themes)—and also Szonyi, Zito, Wolf in previous weeks…
5 Week 5 March 24: Socialism, Modernity, and Kinship Beautiful Reading, Beautiful Writing (BRBW): Hershatter 2011 [Review by Day 2014] ASSESSMENT: Group Work Find all the examples you can of patrilineal or familial thinking/practice in wider contemporary Chinese society, discuss in groups, and present your findings to the class. Mandatory Readings: Hershatter, Gail 2011 The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China’s Collective Past. Berkeley, University of California Press, pp1-31, 267-288. “Introduction” Ch1 “Frames” Ch10 “Narrator” MA Reads: Fong, Vanessa L. 2002. China's One-Child Policy and the Empowerment of Urban Daughters. American Anthropologist104(4): 1098-1109. TUTORIAL PRESENTATION— Summarise and discuss Fong with relation to Hershatter and wider literature/evidence. The tutorial presenter and lecturer will work together.
6 Week 6 March 31. Guanxi and Bourdieu’s Theory of Capital Beautiful Reading, Beautiful Writing (BRBW): Close reading of Gold and Bourdieu Discussion of select passages from Kipnis. Note: April 7 and April 14, 2021 are off for mid-semester break. ASSESSMENT: Critical Summary 3 Mandatory Readings: 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. Theory/Conceptual Bourdieu, Pierre 1986 “The Forms of Capital.” In The Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. J. Richardson. New York, Greenwood Press: 241–258. MA Reads: Kipnis, Andrew B. 1996. "Managing Guanxi in a North China Village." Modern China 22(3): 285-314. TUTORIAL PRESENTATION—Summary of Kipnis (1996) "Managing Guanxi” with reference to theories of ritual, guanxi, and social capital.
7 Week 7 April 21: Guanxi in Government and Business Book Talk by ANG Yuenyuen Beautiful Reading, Beautiful Writing (BRBW): Discuss Ang Yuenyuen’s thesis (2020) in comparison with Hillman, Osburg, Smith (2009) and Manion (2004) Note: April 7 and April 14, 2021 are off for mid-semester break. ASSESSMENT: Critical Summary 4 Mandatory Readings: Osburg, John 2013. Ch3 “Relationships Are The Law: Elite Networks and Corruption in Contemporary China,” in Anxious Wealth: Money and Morality Among China's New Rich. Stanford University Press, pp76–112. Hillman, Ben. 2010. "Factions and Spoils: Examining Political Behavior within the Local State in China." The China Journal(64): 1-18. Ang, Yuen Yuen 2020. Ch1 “Introduction: China’s Gilded Age,” in China's Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Boom and Vast Corruption. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp1 – 22. MA Reads: Ang, Yuen Yuen 2020. Ch4 “Profit-Sharing, Chinese-Style,” in China's Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Boom and Vast Corruption. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp85–118. TUTORIAL PRESENTATION— Consider Ang Yuenyuen’s thesis (2020) in comparison with evidence presented in Hillman and Osburg. See also Smith (2009) and Manion (2004): Manion, Melanie 2004 Corruption by Design: Building Clean Government in Mainland China and Hong Kong. Cambridge, Harvard University Press. Smith, Graeme. 2009. "Political Machinations in a Rural County." The China Journal (62): 29-60.
8 Week 8 April 28: Gender and Guanxi Beautiful Reading, Beautiful Writing (BRBW): Summarise and discuss Clegg with relation to empirical evidence presented in the course. Discuss styles of argumentation, Kipnis vs Tsai. ASSESSMENT: Critical Summary 5 Mandatory Readings: Tsai, Kellee S. 2000. "Banquet Banking: Gender and Rotating Savings and Credit Associations in South China." The China Quarterly (161):142-170. Kipnis, Andrew B. 2002. "Zouping Christianity as Gendered Critique? The Place of the Political in Ethnography." Anthropology and Humanism 27(1): 80-96. MA Reads (Theory/Conceptual): Clegg, Stewart 2011 “Power, Legitimacy, and Authority.” In Routledge International Handbook of Contemporary Social and Political Theory. G. Delanty and S. P. Turner. London, UNITED KINGDOM, Taylor & Francis Group: 215–225. TUTORIAL PRESENTATION—Summarise and discuss Clegg with relation to empirical evidence presented in the course.
9 Week 9 May 5: The Chinese Corporate Group: Lineage, Village, and Native-Place Beautiful Reading, Beautiful Writing (BRBW): Discuss Granovetter article with regard to Goodman, the lecture, and previous examples in course. Goodman themes. ASSESSMENT: Critical Summary 6 Mandatory Readings: 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. Goodman, Bryna. 1995. Ch4 “Expansive Practices” in Native Place, City, and Nation: Regional Networks and Identities in Shanghai, 1853-1937. Berkeley: University of California Press. Goodman 1995 available free at: https://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft0m3nb066;query=;brand=ucpress MA Reads: (Theory/Conceptual): Granovetter, Mark 2005 "The Impact of Social Structure on Economic Outcomes." Journal of Economic Perspectives 19(1): 33-50. TUTORIAL PRESENTATION— Discuss Granovetter survey article with regard to Goodman, the lecture, and previous examples in course.
10 Week 10 May 12: Familial Relations and Social Control Beautiful Reading, Beautiful Writing (BRBW): Close reading of Oksala. Analysis of selected passages from Kuhn. Mini Manual of the Essay Writer. Mandatory Readings: 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. Kuhn, Philip A. 1970 Rebellion and Its Enemies in Late Imperial China; Militarisation and Social Structure, 1796-1864. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, pp24–28, 76–92. MA Reads: (Theory/Conceptual): Oksala, Johanna 2016 Microphysics of Power. In The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory. L. Disch and M. Hawkesworth, Oxford: [Electronic Resource]: 1-21. TUTORIAL PRESENTATION— Discuss the role of the family in state power, and in resisting state power.
11 Week 11 May 19: Student Presentations and Film: “Nezha Conquers the Dragon King” Beautiful Reading, Beautiful Writing (BRBW): Film discussion. Explication and analysis of Sangren 2017 reading. Discussion of theoretical links: Hegemony (vs Ideology) Ritual Major Essay topic presentations. Each student will make a presentation about his or her final essay topic. The presentation is mandatory; non-presenting students will lose 10% on the overall essay grade. It is not assessed, but aims to improve the essay. Mandatory Reading: Sangren, P. Steven 2017 Filial Obsessions: Chinese Patriliny and Its Discontents. Switzerland, Palgrave Macmillan. Ch2 ALL Ch5 pp134-147 Ch7 pp217-223. These sections are selected to direct students towards discussion of Nezha and the traditional epic “The Investiture of the Gods” (Fanshen Yanyi). Did Sangren convince us? Film: “Nezha Conquers the Dragon King” (Nezha Nao Hai), Shanghai Animation Film Studio, 1979: 58 mins. NO TUTORIAL PRESENTATION
12 Week 12 May 26: Film: Title To Be Determined Beautiful Reading, Beautiful Writing (BRBW): Course recap, of both theory and empirical evidence. Essay consultations, if required. ASSESSMENT: Impromptu Film Critique—per Conceptual Themes of Course. 5%. Students are expected to proactively engage in class discussion to demonstrate knowledge of concepts and the analytical capacity to apply them. NO READINGS NO TUTORIAL PRESENTATION

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 Wednesdays in semester.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Role-play of _The House of Lim_ (10%) 10 % 03/03/2021 1,2,3,4,5,7
Critical Summaries (25%) 25 % 10/03/2021 1,2,3,4,5,7
Tutorial presentation 10% (in lieu of critical summary.) 10 % 10/03/2021 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Group Research (15%) 15 % 24/03/2021 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Impromptu film critique 5% 5 % 26/05/2021 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Final Essay (35%) 35 % 06/06/2021 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.


There will be no examinations in this course.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 03/03/2021
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: 25 %
Due Date: 10/03/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,7

Critical Summaries (25%)

Due Weeks 3, 4, 6 – 9 

For five of the six weeks 3, 4, 6–9, ALL students will submit a 300 word critical summary of the mandatory readings. (The missed week will be a tutorial presentation, worth 10%, see below.)


Each summary is worth 5 points for a total of 25 points (25% of the final grade) for the five 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 40% of the total course assessment will be graded, and feedback provided, before the midsemester break.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 10/03/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Tutorial presentation 10% (in lieu of critical summary.)

Week of presentation to be selected by students from among weeks 3–10.


ALL students will select one week from among weeks 3 – 10 to make a 5 minute oral presentation on the mandatory readings. 


This task is worth 10 points, and students are expected to engage with the theoretical reading.


Presenting students will read MA readings, even if they are undergraduates, but will not need to hand in a critical summary that week.


At least one student will present each week (weeks 3 – 10) and lead the class in discussion that same week. In their presentations, students may refer to additional literature on the topic more broadly.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 24/03/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Group Research (15%)

Due Week 5. March 24


Students, working in groups of three to five, find sources on family and kinship structures and ideals in wider society. They will present their findings to the class (five minutes), and hand in an annotated bibliography. The presentation and bibliography are worth 10% of the course mark.


It is expected that each and every student in the group will make a strong contribution.

Students will assess their group peers’ respective contributions to the group research project, awarding 0–5 marks (0 = “Tom made no contribution”; 5 = “Tom made a strong contribution”). 

The average total of peer assessments (as %) will be multiplied by lecturer-awarded marks for the assignment to arrive at the final mark. 

Assessment Task 5

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 26/05/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Impromptu film critique 5%

Impromptu Film Critique—per Conceptual Themes of Course. Week 12. May 26


Students watch a film in the last class of the semester that brings up many of the key themes of the course. 

As a class, we analyse and discuss. 

Students are expected to proactively engage in class discussion to demonstrate knowledge of concepts and the analytical capacity to apply them.

Assessment Task 6

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 06/06/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Final Essay (35%)

Presentation of essay topic/argument (5%): Due in class Week 11. May 19


Essay (35%): Due 12 noon, June 6, 2021


Students will write a 2500 [MAPS 3500] word essay on a topic of their choice that is approved by the lecturer. 


In the penultimate class students will make an oral presentation about their final essay topic. 


The presentation is mandatory; non-presenting students will lose 10% on the overall essay grade. The presentation is not assessed, but aims to improve the essay.

The total number of points for this assignment is 35. 


The essay is to be turned in via Wattle/Turnitin BEFORE 12 noon on June 6, 2021.

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 Tom 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 Tom Cliff

Wednesday 13:00 14:00
Wednesday 13:00 14:00
Dr Tom Cliff
6125 0152

Research Interests

Dr Tom Cliff

Wednesday 13:00 14:00
Wednesday 13:00 14:00

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