Prof Yaojun Li

Professor of Social Change (Sociology)

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I started work in this University in 2000 at the Centre for Census and Survey Research (CCSR). In 2003, I went to Birmingham University but came back again in 2007 to join the Institute for Social Change (ISC). With the merger of CCSR and ISC into the Cathie Marsh Institute of Social Research (CMI) in August 2014, I have been working in both Department of Sociology and CMI.

I worked at Fudan University in 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. My research focuses on social mobility and social stratification, with particular regard to class, education, labour market position, social capital and ethnic integration in Britain and China. I welcome PhD students in these areas. I have conducted many projects funded by research councils in Britain and other countries. My publications have appeared as journal articles, book chapters and official reports. 

I am on the Editorial Boards of Social Inclusion, Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, and Chinese Sociological Review and I serve on the ESRC Peer Review College. I was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) in 2016.

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Additional Information

Supervision areas:
I supervise PhD theses on social mobility and social stratification, social capital, education, labour market positions, ethnic integration and comparative studies, especially between Britain and China.
Current PhD Students:

  • Lin Ding, 2020-2023, ‘Gender and Class Differences in Creative Development —A Study of Social Reproduction of Creativity in England’, main supervisor, with Andy Miles as co-supervisor, self-funding.
  • Xiyuan Liu, 2020-2023, ‘Education Subsidy, Urban-rural Division, and Migrant Students in China’, main supervisor, with Andy Miles as co-supervisor, funded by the China Scholarship Council and the University of Manchester.
  • Zhuofei Lu, 2021-2024, 'Flexible work arrangements and mental health in the UK', co-supervisor with Professor Wendy Olsen, self-funded.
  • Wenxi Tang 2022-2025, 'Meritocracy in China: theory and evidence’, main supervisor, with Arkadiusz Wisniowski as co-supervisor, self-funded.

  • Yu Feng, 2022-2025, ‘The Insecurity and Anxiety of the New Middle Class in China’, co-supervisor, with Hilary Pilkington as main supervisor, self-funded.

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
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)
  • Javier Castillo, 'Ethinity, skin colour and social stratification in Latin America', funded by Chillian Government, main supervisor, with Professor Anthony Heath as co-supervisor till 2019 and then from 2019 with Dr Nick Shryane as co-supervisor (2022).
  • Aaron Hsu. 'The Social Integration of Migrant Peasant Workers in Mainland China', funded by Ministry of Education, Taiwan. Main supervisor, with Anthony Heath and Nan Zhang as co-supervisors (2022). 
  • Sijia Du, 'Social capital and labour market position in China', main supervisor, with Dr Nan Zhang and Professor Wendy Olsen as co-supervisors, funded by University of Manchester (2022). 

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.
  • Zhuqing Duan, from Xi'an Jiaotong University, China (Sept 2019 - August 2020)

Visiting scholars:

  • Professor 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.
  • Professor Mei Tong, from Xi'an Jiaotong University, (2019-2020).

Areas of expertise

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

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

Education / academic qualifications

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

Related information


Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

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Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

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