Spring 2020 - IS 333 E100

Chinese Development and Its Discontents (4)

Class Number: 7514

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM
    HCC 2510, Vancouver

  • 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 character and conditions of market reforms beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and considers the economic, political, and social consequences of market transformation. We will begin with a brief historical overview of China before 1949 and during the Mao era. We will then survey interdisciplinary academic debates on what constitutes the “Chinese development model”. The rest of the course will be devoted to examining a range of social issues in contemporary Chinese society, including rural-urban inequality, the labor question, the search for civil society, the rise of the middle class, gender inequality, environmental degradation, challenges to state legitimacy and contentious politics, the rise of nationalism and national identity, and China’s changing position in the world system.


After successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
• Describe in general terms how market reforms unfolded in China
• Evaluate academic debates on the characterization of Chinese market reforms
• Analyze and evaluate contending perspectives on the successes and failures of market reforms in China
• Critically assess the impact of market reforms on contemporary Chinese society, specifically in the areas of:

o rural-urban inequality
o labor precarization
o civil society development
o the rise of the middle class
o gender inequality
o environmental degradation
o nationalism and national identity
o challenges to state legitimacy
• Communicate ideas clearly and persuasively in writing


  • Discussion Papers/Responses 25%
  • In-class presentation 15%
  • 2 x Work-in-progress pieces (preparation for final assignment) 20%
  • Final assignment 40%


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.

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