Prof Yaojun Li

Professor of Social Change (Sociology)

Full contact details
View graph of relations


I came to work in the University in 2000 as a Research Fellow, at the Centre for Census and Survey Research (CCSR). In 2003, I went to Birmingham University for a lectureship but came back again in 2007 to join the Institute for Social Change (ISC) as Professor of Sociology. With the merger of the CCSR and the ISC into the Cathie Marsh Institute of Social Research (CMIST) in August 2014, I am now in both Sociology and CMIST.

I was a Lecturer at Fudan University, Shanghai, China before coming to study at Oxford University on a Swires Scholarship (funded by John Swires and Sons) for which I am eternally grateful. I did an MPhil at St Antony's College, and a DPhil at Nuffield College, both in Sociology. After graduation, I worked as Research Fellow, Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader at Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham Universities before taking the current position. My research focuses on social mobility, social capital, and ethnic integration in Britain and China, and I also do some research on the USA, Australia and Qatar. I supervise PhD students in these areas. My PhD students are working as researchers in Oxford and Essex Universities, or as lecturers or professors in several universities in Taiwan, mainland China and Britain. I have conducted many research projects funded by the ESRC, the EPSRC, Notre Dame University and John Templeton Foundation (USA), NSFC, Australian Research Council, Qatar National Research Fund and other organisations.

I was a founding member, and I still serve on the Editorial Board, of the Social Inclusion journal. I was on the Editorial Board of Sociology, and I am a member of the ESRC Peer Review College. I am a frequent reviewer for sociology journals and for research councils in Britain and other countries. I teach an undergraduate module on Social Change in China, and a PGT module on Social Capital and Social Change. I am the Director of the PGR Programme for the Applied Social Research (ASR) at the CMIST.

I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).

Further information

Additional Information

Supervision areas:
I supervise PhD theses on social mobility, social capital, employment, education, ethnicity and related areas in social stratification.
Current PhD Students:

  • Xin Wang, 'Social and economic mobility in China', self-funded, main supervisor, with Anthony Heath as co-supervisor.
  • Javier Castillo, 'Ethinity, skin colour and social stratification in Latin America', funded by Chillian Government, main supervisor, with Anthony Heath as co-supervisor.
  • Aaron Hsu. 'The Social Integration of Migrant Peasant Workers in Mainland China', funded by Ministry of Education, Taiwan. Main supervisor, with Anthony Heath as co-supervisor.

Current teaching:
I teach a PGT course in Sociology on Social Capital and Social Change, and a undergraduate course in Sociology on Social Change in China. I am the Director of Applied Social Research (ASR) Programme at the CMIST.
Former PhD students:

  • Yunghan Chang, 'Family Transformation and Women's Labour Market Participation in Taiwan', self funded. Main supervisor with Angela Dale as co-supervisor (2010).
  • Jianxun Kong, 'Social capital and social distance in China', funded by the Ford Foundation. Main supervisor with Fiona Devine as co-supervisor (2011).
  • Meng Chen, 'Social mobility in China', funded by Manchester University, Main supervisor, with Laural Morales as co-supervisor (2012).
  • Kyung-A Kim, 'Family origin, educational attainment and class destination of men and women in Korea', self funded. Main supervisor with David Cutts and Anna Zimdars as co-supervisors (2013).
  • Steffanie Dobler, 'Religion and Civic Values in Europe. A Multilevel Analysis of 48 countries', funded by the North American Foundation for the University of Manchester (NAFUM). Co-supervisor, with Ed Fieldhous as main supervisor (2013).
  • Mary Mollie Bourne, 'Class, culture and ethnicity: educational attainment in England', funded by the ESRC, Main supervisor, with Ian Plewis as co-supervisor. (2015)
  • Yinxuan Huang, 'Rebuilding the egalitarian society: development and lessons in the third sector in China', funded by ORS/School. Main supervisor, with Anthony Heath as co-supervisor. (2016)
  • Min Zhang. 'Ethnic social mobility in Britain', ISC studentship. Main supervisor with Anthony Heath as co-supervisor. (2018)
  • Alejandro Seville. 'Class and educational transition in Chile'. Chilean Government Scholarship. Main supervisor, with Anthony Heath and Tarani Chandola as co-supervisors. (2018)
  • Yizhang Zhao. 'Happiness in China'. The Samuel Chan scholarship (1+3). Main supervisor, with Anthony Heath and Nick Shryane as co-supervisors. (2018)

Visiting PhD students:

  • Yufei Hao, from Xi'an Jiaotong University, China. Main supervisor (2012-2013), supervisor.
  • Ana Safranoff, from Pompeu Fabra University of Spain (2013), supervisor.

Visiting scholars:

  • Dr Shun Zhang, from Xi'an Jiaotong University, China. Mentor (2012-2013), mentor.
  • Professor Fang Li, from Zhejiang University of Science and Technolodgy, China (2014-2015), mentor.
  • Professor Yali Xue, from Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, China (2017-2018), mentor.

Areas of expertise

  • HM Sociology - Socal mobility, social stratification, social capital, ethnic integration

Education / academic qualifications

  • 1998 - The service class: conceptual vigour and empirical value, Oxford University

Related information


Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

View all (97)


Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditorial work

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditorial work

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditorial work

View all (3)