Guobin Yang, Ph.D.
Spring 2006 / Barnard College / Columbia University

This seminar introduces students to social science research on East Asia (primarily China, South Korea, and Japan). By examining exemplary and current social science works on selected topics, we aim to develop basic skills in social research, analysis, and writing and explore important areas of social research on East Asian societies.

We start with an overview of the basic methods of social research. The rest of the seminar covers two broad themes. One is the role of culture and the state in East Asian development. The other concerns the social and political consequences of economic development. In this respect, we will examine issues of labor, gender, stratification, environment activism, as well as media, civil society and political change. We conclude with discussions about globalization.


1. Attendance and active participation in class discussions (10%)

2. Group project (15%): Each student will participate in ONE group project.

3. Eight written assignments and one class presentation (50%): Students should complete eight written assignments and present one of these assignments in class. Assignments are due at the beginning of the class.

4. Final research proposal (25%). The proposal should include a research question that can be addressed through the analysis of empirical evidence, a hypothesis, a discussion of the research methods and data, a literature review, and a bibliography. Due on May 5.

5. Bonus points. On Thursday March 23 and Friday March 24, the Weatherhead East Asian Institute will host a Chinese documentary festival. Three new documentaries on contemporary social issues will be screened. In addition, there will be a panel discussion. All events will begin at or after 4pm. Attend the event on March 23 OR March 24 and submit a 2-page essay about the main social issues brought up in the event to get three bonus points. Stay tuned for more information.

A+ = 98 or above B+ = 86-89 C+ = 76-79 D = 60-64
A = 94-97 B = 83-85 C = 70-75 F = Below 60
A- = 90-93 B- = 80-82 C- = 65-69  

Required reading assignments consist of journal articles and book chapters and three books. The books are available in Labyrinth Books and are as follows:

Charles Armstrong (ed.), Korean Society: Civil Society, Democracy and the State. RoutledgeCurzon, 2002.

Frank J. Schwartz and Susan J. Pharr, eds, The State of Civil Society in Japan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Charles Ragin, Constructing Social Research. Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press, 1994.

Unless otherwise noted, articles are available for download through the online journal databases of the university libraries. Book chapters are on reserve in the Barnard Library (look for the title of the book rather than the title of the chapter in the library Reserves).

1/17 Introduction: Library orientation (class meets in Starr East Asian Library)

1/24 What is social research?

Constructing Social Research , pp. 1-53.

Linda Lim, " Singapore's Success: the Myth of the Free-Market Economy," Asian Survey 23 (June 1983), pp. 752-764.

Written assignment #1: Briefly discuss whether and how Lim’s article meets the requirements of social science representations outlined on p. 23 of Constructing Social Research and which of the 7 goals of social science research it meets.

1/31 The process of social research; Social research involving human subjects

Constructing Social Research , pp.55-79.

Study the following web sites of the Institutional Review Board: (about students as researchers) (exempt research) (exempt research) (internet-based research)

Group project (Group 1): Make an in-class presentation on human subject research.

2/7 Qualitative methods

Constructing Social Research , pp.81-103.

Helen Hardacre, “Fieldwork with Japanese Religious Groups.” Pp. 71-88 in Doing Fieldwork in Japan, edited by Theodore C. Bestor, Patricia G. Steinhoff, Victoria Lyon Bestor. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2003. [On reserve in Barnard Library]

David Y. H. Wu, “McDonald’s in Taipei: Hamburgers, Betel Nuts, and National Identity.” Pp. 110-135 in Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia, edited by James L. Watson. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997. [On reserve in Barnard Library]

Written assignment #2: Answer the following questions: What is the phenomenon studied in David Wu’s article? How many cases are studied? What analytic frame is used? What kind of evidence does it use to make its argument? How was the evidence collected? What image is presented of the studied phenomenon?

2/14 Comparative and historical methods

Constructing Social Research , pp.105-130.

Manuel Castells, “Four Asian Tigers with a Dragon Head: A Comparative Analysis of the State, Economy, and Society in the Asian Pacific Rim.” Pp. 33-70 in States and Development in the Asian Pacific Rim, edited by Richard P. Appelbaum and Jeffrey Henderson. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage, 1992. [On reserve in Barnard Library]

Gary Hamilton, “Chinese Consumption of Foreign Commodities: A Comparative Perspective.” American Sociological Review 42 (Dec. 1977): 877-891.

David Johnson, “A Tale of Two Systems: Prosecuting Corruption in Japan and Italy.” Pp. 257-280 in The State of Civil Society in Japan, edited by Schwartz and Pharr.

Written assignment #3: Based on Castells’s article “Four Asian Tigers with a Dragon Head” (esp. pp. 50-55), construct a truth table of the common and uncommon factors in the economic development of Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore.

2/21 East Asian Development (I): Confucian Capitalism and the Developmental State

Ronald Dore, "Goodwill and the Spirit of Market Capitalism," Chapter 9 in Donald Dore, Taking Japan Seriously: Confucian Perspective on Leading Economic Issues. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987). [On reserve in Barnard Library]

Roger Janelli and Dawnhee Yim, “The Mutual Constitution of Confucianism and Capitalism in South Korea,” in Timothy Brook and Hy Van Luong, Culture and Economy: The Shaping of Capitalism in Eastern Asia (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997), pp. 107-124. [On reserve in Barnard Library]

Gary G. Hamilton and Nicole Woolsey Biggart, “Market, Culture and Authority: A Comparative Analysis of Management and Organization in the Far East.” American Journal of Sociology 94 (1988), Supplement, S52-S94.

Manuel Castells, “Four Asian Tigers with a Dragon Head: A Comparative Analysis of the State, Economy, and Society in the Asian Pacific Rim.” Pp. 33-70 in States and Development in the Asian Pacific Rim.

Hagen Koo and Eun Mee Kim, "The Developmental State and Capital Accumulation in South Korea", in States and Development in the Asian Pacific Rim, edited by Richard P. Appelbaum and Jeffrey Henderson. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage, 1992. [On reserve in Barnard Library]

Group project (Group 2): Divide your group into two sub-groups. With one group taking the cultural position on East Asian development and the other taking the political position, conduct an informed debate about the sources of East Asian development.

2/28 East Asian Development (II): China; The 1997 Financial Crisis

Andrew Walder, “ China 's Transitional Economy: Interpreting Its Significance,” The China Quarterly, No. 144 (Dec., 1995): 963-979.

Yingyi Qian and Jinglian Wu, “Transformation in China.” Paper presented at the 14 th World Congress of the International Economic Association. Marrakech, Morocco, 2005. [To be distributed by email]

Seung-Wook Baek, “Does China follow the East Asian development model?” Journal of Contemporary Asia , 2005, Vol. 35 Issue 4, pp. 485-498.

Cal Clark and Changhoon Jung. "Implications of the Asian Flu for Developmental State Theory: The Cases of South Korea and Taiwan." Asian Affairs: An American Review 29:1 (Spring 2002), pp. 16-43.

Written assignment #4: Write a 2-3 page essay to examine the main factors that have contributed to China’s economic success.

3/7 The Bases of Inequality

Harold R. Kerbo, Social Stratification and Inequality: Class Conflict in Historical, Comparative, and Global Perspective. Sixth Edition ( Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2005). Chapter on “Social Stratification in Japan,” pp. 469-512.

Dennis Hart, "Class formation and industrialization of culture: The case of South Korea's emerging middle class," Korea Journal 33 (Summer, 1993).

Yanjie Bian, “Chinese Social Stratification and Social Mobility,” Annual Review of Sociology, 28 (2002): 91-116.

Luigi Tomba, "Creating an Urban Middle Class: Social Engineering in Beijing", in The China Journal, No. 51, January 2004.

Group project (Group 3): Make a class presentation to discuss the main forms and sources of inequality in China, South Korea, and Japan.

3/14 No class. Spring break.

3/21 Labor in East Asia

Andrew Gordon, “Conditions for the Disappearance of the Japanese Working-Class Movement.” Pp. 53-76 in Putting Class in Its Place: Worker Identities in East Asia, edited by Elizabeth J. Perry. (Berkeley: China Research Monograph, Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, 1996). [On reserve in Barnard Library]

Suzuki Akira, “The Death of Unions’ Associational Life? Political and Cultural Aspects of Enterprise Unions.” Pp. 195-213 in The State of Civil Society in Japan, edited by Frank J. Schwartz and Susan J. Pharr.

Hagen Koo, Korean Workers: The Culture and Politics of Class Formation (Cornell University Press, 2001), Chapter 6. [On reserve in Barnard Library]

Anita Chan and Zhu Xiaoyang, “Disciplinary Labor Regimes in Chinese Factories,” Critical Asian Studies, 35(4), 2003, 559-584.

Dorothy J. Solinger, “ The Chinese Work Unit and Transient Labor in the Transition from Socialism,” Modern China, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Apr., 1995), pp. 155-183.

Group Project (Group 4): Suppose you are factory workers in an East Asian country. Draft a statement describing the conditions of the working class in your country and lay out a program of action aimed at improving your conditions.

3/28 Environmental Movements

Jeffrey Broadbent, “Movement in Context: Thick Social Networks and Environmental Mobilization in Japan.” Social Movements and Networks: Relational Approaches to Collective Action, edited by M. Diani and D. McAdam. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. [On reserve in Barnard Library]

Sunhyuk Kim. 2000. “Democratization and Environmentalism: South Korea and Taiwan in Comparative Perspective.” Journal of Asian and African Studies Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 287-302.

Stephen Wing-Kai Chiu, Ho-Fung Hung, and On-Kwok Lai, “Environmental Movements in Hong Kong.” Pp. 55-89 in Asia’s Environmental Movements, edited by Yok-shiu Lee and Alvin So. M. E. Sharpe, 1999. [On reserve in Barnard Library]

Guobin Yang, “Environmental NGOs and Institutional Dynamics in China.” The China Quarterly No. 181 (2005), pp. 46-66.

Written assignment #5: In a 2-3 page essay, discuss the similarities and differences in the environmental movements in two East Asian societies.

4/4 Mass Media, The Internet, and the Public Sphere

Laurie Friedman, “Mobilizing and Demobilizing the Japanese Public Sphere: Mass Media and the Internet in Japan.” Pp. 235-257 in The State of Civil Society in Japan, edited by Frank J. Schwartz and Susan J. Pharr.

Byoungkwan Lee, Karen M. Lancendorfer, and Ki Jung Lee “Agenda-setting and the Internet: The Intermedia Influence of Internet Bulletin Boards on Newspaper Coverage of the 2000 General Election in South Korea.” Asian Journal of Communication Vol. 15, No. 1 (March 2005), pp. 57-71.

Ichiyo Habuchi, Shingo Dobashi, Izumi Tsuji, Koh Iwata, “ Ordinary Usage of New Media: Internet Usage via Mobile Phone in Japan,”  International Journal of Japanese Sociology Vol. 14 Issue 1 (2005), pp. 94-108.

Guobin Yang, "The Internet and Civil Society in China: A Preliminary Assessment." Journal of Contemporary China. Volume 12, Number 36 (August 2003), pp.453 - 475.

Written assignment #6: Study a web site AND a newspaper in any East Asian society and in any language. In a 2-3 page report, discuss their differences and similarities in content, style of presentation, and any other aspect you find important. Provide the necessary background information about the web site and the newspaper.

4/11 Civil Society and Political Change

Bruce Cumings, “Civil Society in West and East,” pp. 11-35 in Korean Society.

Robert Pekkanen, “Molding Japanese Civil Society,” pp. 116-134 in The State of Civil Society in Japan.

Sunhyuk Kim, “Civil Society and Democratization,” pp. 92-108 in Korean Society.

Hagen Koo, “Engendering Civil Society: The Role of the Labor Movement,” pp. 109-131 in Korean Society.

Jude Howell, “New Directions in Civil Society: Organizing Around Marginalized Interests.” Pp. 143-171 in Governance in China, edited by Jude Howell. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004.

Group Project (Group 5): Based on the assigned readings for this week and additional chapters in Korean Society and The State of Civil Society in Japan, prepare a critical review of the literature on “Civic Society in East Asia: Issues, Progress, and Challenges.”

4/18 Women in East Asia

Yuko Ogasawara, Office Ladies and Salaried Men (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998). Chapter 1 and Chapter 5. [Available as e-book through CLIO]

Miriam Ching Yoon Louie. 1995. “Minjung Feminism: Korean Women’s Movement for Gender and Class Liberation.” Women’s Studies International Forum 18(4): 417-430.

Ching Kwan Lee, “Engendering the Worlds of Labor: Women Workers, Labor Markets, and Production Politics in the South China Economic Miracle,” American Sociological Review 60 (June 1995): 378-397.

Pun Ngai, “Engendering Chinese Modernity: the Sexual Politics of Dagongmei in a Dormitory Labour Regime,” Asian Studies Review Vol. 28 (June 2004), pp. 151–165 .

Written assignment #7: In a 2-3 page essay, discuss the conditions and struggles of working-class women in East Asia and the main challenges they face.

4/25 Globalization, Localization, and Individualization (last class meeting)

Kim Reimann, “Building Global Civil Society from the Outside In? Japanese

International Development NGOs, the State, and International Norms.” Pp. 298-315 in The State of Civil Society in Japan, edited by Frank J. Schwartz and Susan J. Pharr.

Sangmee Bak, “McDonald’s in Seoul: Food Choices, Identity, and Nationalism,” pp. 136-160 in Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia. [On reserve in Barnard Library]

David Y. H. Wu, “McDonald’s in Taipei: Hamburgers, Betel Nuts, and National Identity.” Pp. 110-135 in Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia.

Written assignment #8: Write a 2-3 page essay on “The Global Me.” Discuss how your personal life is linked with East Asia. Alternatively, you may interview a friend and discuss how his or her life is linked with East Asia.

5/5 Final research proposal due.