Nadya giving the lecture: “An Introduction to the Strong Program in Cultural Sociology”
By Nadya Jaworsky
In the first two weeks of September 2019, I enjoyed the opportunity to visit the Yale-Fudan Center for Research in Cultural Sociology at Fudan University in Shanghai and engage in sharing and learning experiences. In addition to delivering lectures on the Strong Program in Cultural Sociology and my own research on immigration and boundary work, I had a chance to meet with professors and students pursuing exciting cultural sociological endeavors. My lunchtime discussions with Professor Zhou Yi, who has published about cultural sociology in China for Shehuixuekan (Journal of Sociological Studies), were certainly engaging. She offered me a particularly warm welcome to Fudan. Professor Anning Hu, whose research interests include social inequality, education, religion, trust, culture, and social research methods, also shared his insights on cultural sociology with me. I spoke extensively about the study of boundaries with PhD student Laura Wan, who is conducting a cultural sociological study entitled “The Rise of Consumerism, and the Transforming Identity Formation Process of Migrant Workers.” She has interviewed migrant construction workers in Beijing and Shanghai (11 first-wave migrant workers who born before 1980 and 33 second wave migrant workers born after 1980), looking at how global consumerism wields its power on their boundary-drawing processes and contributes to the identity formation of each generation. She shared: “Affected by consumption discourse, the new generation (second wave) of migrant workers depicts construction work and the manufacturing industry as shabby, unseemly and uncivilized, while, on the other hand, the consumer industry as fashionable and invigorating. On the contrary, the older generation depicts their work on the construction site as rewarding and challenging, since they earn their living by their own hands.” She also plans to conduct a survey at the middle range, to enhance her qualitative findings. I am also very grateful to Laura for several wonderful sightseeing trips in Shanghai. Manning Zheng is completing her undergraduate thesis project: “Leaving Home or Leaving Land: A Qualitative Study on Land Consciousness among People Living in China’s Rural Areas and their Rural-Urban Migrant Children.” She has conducted 42 qualitative interviews to help her answer questions concerning: 1) how people perceive land in terms of legal concepts (property rights), culture (nostalgia, etc.), economy (ways of making a living), and political attitudes obedience to the government, etc.); 2) how they consider the relationship between people who were born in rural areas and the land they have a legal right to utilize, given that land policies have changed considerably in recent years; and 3) how people react to such policies. It was truly inspiring to hear about these compelling cultural sociological projects. Thanks to the The Henry Luce Foundation and Yale University’s Macmillan Center for International and Area Studies for sponsoring this trip and I look forward to future cooperation between Yale and Fudan!