Conducting Fieldwork Research in China

Conducting Fieldwork Research in China












Faculty Instructor: Professor Xueguang Zhou, Department of Sociology and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI)

Arrival Date in Beijing, China: June 21, 2014
Departure Date from Chengdu, China: July 12, 2014


Seminar Overview

This seminar aims at helping graduate students develop their fieldwork proposals and research designs and gain familiarity with the Chinese context so that they can take the next step in conducting their own fieldwork in China. Discussion topics include research design, the construction of interview questions, and other related issues in conducting fieldwork in the Chinese context. Depending on the needs of the seminar participants, the instructor will provide selected reading materials on specific themes/topics. An important component of this graduate seminar is to facilitate interactions and exchange of research experience and to develop future collaboration among graduate students/scholars from Stanford and those from Chinese universities. The seminar is limited to 6 Stanford doctoral students.

The seminar is structured as follows:

1. In the first two weeks, seminar discussions are organized at SCPKU in Beijing, involving a mixture of (a) class discussions organized around participants’ fieldwork proposals, involving students from Stanford and Chinese universities; (b) guest speakers to give lectures/talks on their research experience in conducting fieldwork in China. The specific topics of discussion will be based on seminar participants’ research interests.

2. In the third week, students will be organized to participate in fieldwork visits to gain first-hand experience in observing and participating in fieldwork research. The research site will be in Chengdu, Sichuan, sponsored and coordinated by Sichuan University. Potential fieldwork sites include: rural villages in the midst of urbanization processes, local government offices in conducting their daily administrative affairs, and/or work and living experiences of the migrant workers.


Application Process, Prerequisites and Expectations

Participants will be selected based on their fieldwork proposal (3-5 pages, emailed to the seminar instructor by April 25, 2014) that outlines the key elements of the research project, including research goals, analytical issues, research design, and specific questions to be asked in the interviews/observations. An online application must also be completed by this date. Stanford doctoral students from all schools and at any stage of their fieldwork (planning for fieldwork, completed preliminary fieldwork, writing up of their fieldwork research) are encouraged to apply. A group of graduate students in Chinese universities will be selected based on their fieldwork experience and availability to work with Stanford students. Participants are expected to be actively involved in discussion and critique of research proposals and work together with other students to revise and develop their research designs. The seminar will be conducted bilingually, in English and Chinese.


Grading Basis

This seminar is non unit-bearing and grades will not be assigned. Students who would like to enroll for credit may consult with the seminar instructor and/or their individual departments to explore "directed research" opportunities.


Faculty Bio

Xueguang Zhou is the Kwoh-Ting Li Professor in Economic Development and Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology and FSI at Stanford University, where he has taught since 2006. Professor Zhou has extensive fieldwork experience in China. His research interests include rural governance, urbanization processes, Chinese organizations and management, and the Chinese bureaucracy.



SCPKU is Stanford’s headquarters for faculty and students engaged in research, teaching, training and outreach activities in China. The Center is located on the PKU campus in the Haidian District of Beijing, which is known for its rich intellectual community, including top universities, research academies and government agencies. The 3400-square-meter center is designed as a resource for the entire Stanford community, providing collaborative spaces and offices as well as support services to facilitate the work of scholars and programs. SCPKU is a focal point for building academic and educational networks throughout East Asia, bringing together established researchers and a new generation of young scholars to create a vibrant and dynamic hub of intellectual exchange and collaboration.


For More Information

Contact Connie Chao for more information about SCPKU's Graduate Seminar Program and other programs and events at the center.