Research Projects

Ongoing Research Projects

I have a number of research projects that are at different stages.

A) China Volunteering and Citizenship. This project involves colleagues at Colgate University, the LSE, Middlebury College and the University of Alberta. Our study will examine both state-led and citizen-led forms of volunteerism to detail the impact they have on urban Chinese people’s understanding of what it means to be a good citizen. Our exploration of how the Party-state intends to use volunteerism to build good citizens will include an analysis of the social credit system, notably how the social credit system may create new ideas or reinforce state ideas about citizenship. A preliminary assessment of our survey data was published in the Washington Post on 18 April 2020, “Not everyone in China thought the government could handle the coronavirus.”

B) The Third Sector as a Temporal Space. I am collaborating with colleagues at the LSE and University of Alberta on a conceptual piece. The term non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is wrought with analytical confusion, encompassing a litany of organisational types, including non-profits, social enterprises, and government-organised NGOs (GONGOs) amongst others. We suggest that much of this puzzlement can be reduced by viewing NGOs within transitory, temporal and spatial terms.

C) The Role of Chinese Development Assistance and Chinese NGOs in SE Asia. I conducted fieldwork in Vietnam and Myanmar to investigate the role of Chinese non-government organisations working with their counterparts in the region to promote better community and development practices. For this project, I will also look at the involvement of foreign donors seeking closer collaboration with their Chinese counterparts in the region to do development work.

D) Developmental States: China and Thailand. This project considers the case of HIV prevention, across both countries, to demonstrate that the developmental state can function as effectively, if not more so without the requisite engagement with or participation of societal stakeholders as in a democracy. The case of HIV prevention is particularly important when thinking through how the developmental state has changed over time.

Past Research Projects

I have recently completed with a colleague at the University of Nottingham a project looking at the resource mobilisation cycle of Chinese civil society organisations. We have a forthcoming article in China: An International Journal, titled: “The Resource Mobilisation Cycle: How Chinese Civil Society Organisations Leverage Cultural, Economic, Symbolic and Social Capital.”

I completed a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada funded project. The project investigated the process in which local Chinese NGOs seek to establish legitimacy for its stated constituents and local authorities, through the production of knowledge (epistemic power). Results of the research can be found in the following articles: “Isomorphic Pressures, Epistemic Communities and State-NGO Collaboration in China” (The China Quarterly, 2014, 220: 936-954); “The Local Corporatist State and NGO Relations in China” (Journal of Contemporary China, 2014, 23(87): 516-534); “A Maturing Civil Society in China?: The Role of Knowledge and Professionalization in the Development of NGOs” (China Information, 31(1): 22-42); “NGO Strategies in an Authoritarian Context, and their Implications for Citizenship: The Case of the People’s Republic of China” (Voluntas, 28(3): 1157-1179);  and “Communities of Practice and Social Learning: An Analysis of the NGO Sector in China.”

A collaborative project funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation examined the process in which Chinese NGOs are “going out” and working in a development context in Africa. Questions of whether we will see greater internationalisation of Chinese NGOs will become pertinent when China increases its presence across the developing world. The findings of the project can be found in Development Policy Review.