Working in No-Man’s Land: Between Social Science and Chinese Studies by Dr Norman Stockman, University of Aberdeen, 15 February 2015

Dr Norman Stockman, University of Aberdeen

Working in No-Man’s Land: Between Social Science and Chinese Studies.

Thursday 26th February, 2015. The argument I develop in this paper can be summarised as follows: together with a whole range of theoretical and political disputes and dilemmas, institutional and organisational factors within the processes of higher education and research operate to create and maintain barriers to fruitful interaction between sociology and Chinese studies, and quite possibly between disciplines and area studies more generally.

In the terms of Burton Clark’s sociology of higher education, these factors operate to maintain boundaries between sections of higher education institutions, defined as horizontally differentiated units making up the division of academic labour. Put another way, the more successful Chinese studies are in establishing their own departments, centres, associations, conferences, informal networks, funding streams, research assessment procedures, and so on, the more detached they become from disciplines in the social sciences and elsewhere, and quite possibly the less influence Chinese studies have within the disciplines, as a force for de-parochialisation or in any other way. The more Chinese studies own the study of China, the less incentive there is for sociologists and others to take account of China. Perhaps more active attempts to incorporate China into the work of the disciplines should come from the discipline itself.

First published: 26 February 2015

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