Prof Yaojun Li

Professor of Social Change (Sociology)

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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 (CMI) in August 2014, I am now in both Sociology and CMI.

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 and social stratification, with particular regard to class, education, labour market position, social capital, ethnic integration and subjective well-being in British and Chinese societies, and I also do some research on US, Australian and Qatari societies. I welcome PhD students in these areas. I have conducted around 20 research projects supported by the ESRC, EPSRC, Notre Dame University and John Templeton Foundation (USA), NSFC, Australian Research Council, Qatar National Research Fund and other organisations. I have got over 100 publications many of which have appeared in the top sociology journals such as American Journal of Sociology, British Journal of Sociology, European Sociological Review, Sociology, British Journal of Political Studies, British Journal of Sociology of Education, Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, Social Science Research, Journal of Ethnic Minority Studies, Ethnicities, Journal of Happiness Studies, Social Indicators Research, Work, Employment and Society, Contemporary Social Research, Comparative Social Research, Demography, Comparative Islamic Studies, Sociological Research Online, Ageing and Society. I have written many official reports for government organisations and think-tanks such as the House of Lords, the Cabinet Office, the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, Runnymede, Centre for Social Investigation at Nuffield College, Oxford University, the Fawcett Society, Policy Exchange, and Joseph Rowntree Foundation. I also have many book chapters.

I was a founding member, and I still serve on the Editorial Board, of the Social Inclusion journal. I am also on the Editorial Board of Research in Social Stratification and Mobility (RSSM), the official journal of RC28.  I was on the Editorial Board of Sociology. I am a member of the ESRC Peer Review College and I serve as a reviewer for the national funding bodies in quite a few countries. I teach an undergraduate module on Social Change in China, and a PGT module on Social Capital and Social Change.

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

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Additional Information

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

  • Javier Castillo, 'Ethinity, skin colour and social stratification in Latin America', funded by Chillian Government, main supervisor, with Anthony Heath as co-supervisor. Professor Anthony Heath was succeeded by Dr Nick Shryane in Sept 2019 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 and Nan Zhang as co-supervisors. Professor Anthony Heath was succeeded by Professor Tarani Chandola in Sept 2019 as co-supervisor.
  • Sijia Du, 'Social capital and labour market position in China', main supervisor, with Nan Zhang as co-supervisor, funded by University of Manchester. 
  • 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.

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)

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

Education / academic qualifications

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

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