Fall 2020 - IS 333 E300

Chinese Development and Its Discontents (4)

Class Number: 4988

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Examines China’s stunning rise, from Mao to global markets, with attention to social issues brought on by the “Chinese development model”. Issues include rural-urban inequality, labor unrest and challenges to state legitimacy, gender inequality, environmental degradation and the search for national identity.


Today, few questions pose greater significance to scholars and policymakers than the rise of China. This course explores the impact of market reforms, beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, on Chinese society. We will begin with a brief historical overview of China before 1949 and during the Mao era. We will then examine the nature and scope of market reforms as it transformed the state, the market, and society. The rest of the course will be devoted to discussions about the bases of state legitimacy in contemporary China, challenges to state legitimacy, and state responses to these challenges.

Students can expect to read between 70-90 pages of academic journal articles or academic book chapters per week for this course. No textbooks will be used.

This course will be taught synchronously online. Online attendance is compulsory. Students who may experience accessibility issues should write to the instructor to discuss possible alternative arrangements.


After successfully completing this course, students should be able to:
• Describe in general terms how market reforms unfolded in China
• Analyze and critically assess contending perspectives on the impact of market reforms on contemporary Chinese society
• Build on a basic understanding of contemporary Chinese society to continue self-directed learning about China
• Identify the structure of evidence-based arguments
• Conduct a basic literature review


  • Participation 15%
  • Weekly reading responses 25%
  • 2 x work-in-progress responses (preparation for final assignment) 25%
  • Literature review (final assignment) 35%


Students will be required to submit their written assignments to Turnitin.com in order to receive credit for the assignments and for the course.

The School for International Studies strictly enforces the University's policies regarding plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. Information about these policies can be found at: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/teaching.html.


This course will be delivered via online platforms, such as Zoom, Canvas, Blackboard, etc.

Students are required to have a computer, with a microphone, webcam, and speakers. They also must have good access to the Internet.

Microsoft Office is required, and a free version of Office 365 is available to SFU students here: https://www.sfu.ca/itservices/technical/software/office365.html.

Students will be required to upload assignments to Canvas and through Turnitin.com.



Students are not required to purchase any textbooks for this course.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).