Martin K. Whyte

John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Sociology, Emeritus, former Acting Director of the Fairbank Center 2007-2008

Martin K. Whyte

Bio

Professor Martin K. Whyte (怀默霆) joined the faculty of the Department of Sociology at Harvard in fall 2000, after previously teaching at the University of Michigan and George Washington University.

Professor Whyte’s primary research and teaching specialties are comparative sociology, sociology of the family, sociology of development, the sociological study of contemporary China, and the study of post-communist transitions. His recent writings reflect these divergent interests: an edited volume entitled Marriage in America: A Communitarian Perspective (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000) and an edited collection of papers drawing on a survey project that focused on relations between aging parents and their grown children in urban Chinese families, entitled China’s Revolutions and Inter-Generational Relations (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies, 2003).

Professor Whyte’s primary research centers on determining how Chinese citizens view the rising gaps between rich and poor in their society. A pilot survey for this project was successfully conducted in Beijing in December 2000. A national survey focusing on inequality and distributive justice issues was completed in the summer of 2004. The results of the 2004 survey were published in Myth of the Social Volcano (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010) as well as in a number of recent articles. In the fall of 2009, he directed a five-year follow-up national survey of Chinese popular attitudes toward current inequalities. The goal of this second national survey was to determine whether later trends, including the global financial crisis that erupted in 2008, made Chinese citizens more or less critical of the market-based inequalities within which they now live. In 2014, Professor Whyte teamed up with two Norwegian China specialists, Kristin Dalen and Hedda Flatø, to carry out a third follow-up China national survey on popular attitudes toward that country’s rising income gaps. The data from these China surveys will be used to examine how Chinese attitudes toward distributive justice issues have evolved in the new millennium.

Based on a conference at the Fairbank Center in 2006 on China’s rural-urban gap, Professor Whyte edited a resulting conference volume: One Country, Two Societies: Rural-Urban Inequality in Contemporary China (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010). He has also published articles on other topics, particularly the puzzle of explaining how the Chinese economy has grown so rapidly in the post-Mao era and critical examinations of population trends and China’s controversial one-child policy.

Research interests: comparative sociology; sociology of the family; sociology of development; the sociological study of contemporary China; the study of post-communist transitions.

Selected Publications

Books

  • Small Groups and Political Rituals in China, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974.
  • The Status of Women in Preindustrial Societies, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978. 
  • Village and Family in Contemporary China, (with William Parish), Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978. 
  • Urban Life in Contemporary China, (with William Parish), Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984. 
  • The Chinese: Adapting the Past, Building the Future, (co-editor), Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, 1986.
  • Dating, Mating, and Marriage, New York: Aldine, 1990.  
  • The Chinese: Adapting the Past, Facing the Future, (co-editor), Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, 1991. 
  • Marriage in America: A Communitarian Perspective, (editor), Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000. 
  • China: Adapting the Past, Confronting the Future, (co-editor), Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies, 2002. 
  • China’s Revolutions and Intergenerational Relations, (editor), Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies, 2003. 
  • Myth of the Social Volcano: Perceptions of Inequality and Distributive Injustice in Contemporary China, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010. 
  • One Country, Two Societies: Rural-Urban Inequality in Contemporary China, (editor and author of introductory chapter), Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010. 

Recent Articles and Chapters

  • “China’s Post-Socialist Inequality,” Current History, Sept. 2012. 
  • “China Needs Justice, Not Equality,” Foreign Affairs, online edition, May 2013.
  • “Soaring Income Gaps: China in Comparative Perspective,” (Chinese translation of the Daedalus paper), in Song Xiaowu, Wang Tianfu, Li Shi, and Wang Feng, eds., China Faces Inequality: Studies in Income Distribution Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press, 2013 (in Chinese). 
  • “Is the Social Volcano Still Dormant? Trends in Chinese Attitudes toward Inequality,” (with Dong-Kyun Im), Social Science Research, 2014, 48: 62-76. 
  • “Soaring Income Gaps: China in Comparative Perspective,” Daedalus, 2014, 143: 39-52. 
  • “Sub-optimal Institutions but Superior Growth: The Puzzle of China’s Economic Boom,” in J. Li and L. M. Wang, eds., China’s Economic Dynamics: A Beijing Consensus in the Making?, London: Routledge, 2014. 
  • “Modifying China’s One-Child Policy,” E-International Relations, online journal, February 2, 2014.
  • “Challenging Myths about China’s One-Child Policy,” (with Wang Feng and Yong Cai), The China Journal, 2015, 74: 144-59. 
  • “China’s Dormant and Active Social Volcanoes,” The China Journal, forthcoming, 2016. 

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