Carolyn L. Hsu

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Carolyn L. Hsu

Charles A. Dana Professor of Sociology

To learn about my research, I recommend that you check out Colgate Research article about my scholarship, titled, "The Surprising Ways Chinese Citizens Respond to National Problems."

You can also look at my article in China Information, which describes how Chinese citizens are still able to push back against the state, even under Xi Jinping’s authoritarianism. 

Currently, I am part of a research group that looks at the changing relationship between citizens and the state in the People's Republic of China, including new forms of activism and mobilization. You can learn more about our research in this Washington Post article, "Not Everyone in China Thought the Government could Handle the Coronavirus" You can also read our recent academic articles, published in the Journal of Contemporary China, Democratization, and the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs.

My previous research was on the rise of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in China. You can learn a little bit about this research by checking out my  paper for the China Policy Institute or my talk at the Brookings Institute. You can also read my  book: Social Entrepreneurship and Citizenship in China

See my profile on ResearchGate or look at my CV.

BA, Yale University, 1991; MA (1995), PhD (2000), University of California, San Diego

Contemporary Chinese society; civil society; citizenship; NGOs; social credit system; activism; social movements; social entrepreneurship; institutions and organizations; post-socialist development; political sociology; economic sociology; social mobility and inequality; narratives; morality and religion.


2017 – Social Entrepreneurship and Citizenship in China: The Rise of NGOs in the PRC, Routledge UK: Research on the Politics and Sociology of China Series

2007 – Creating Market Socialism: How Ordinary People are Shaping Class and Status in China, Duke University Press.

Journal Articles

2022   “The Construction and Performance of Citizenship in Contemporary China.” Journal of Contemporary China. Carolyn L. Hsu,  Jessica C. Teets, Reza Hasmath, Jennifer Y.J. Hsu, Timothy Hildebrandt.).  DOI: 10.1080/10670564.2022.2030993

2021   “Volunteerism and Democratic Learning in an Authoritarian State: The Case of China.” Democratization. (Jessica C. Teets, Reza Hasmath, Timothy Hildebrandt, Carolyn L. Hsu, and Jennifer Y.J. Hsu.) DOI: 10.1080/13510347.2021.2015334

2021   “Citizenship Expectations for Crisis Management and the Involvement of Civil Society Organizations in China.” Journal of Current Chinese Affairs. (Reza Hasmath, Timothy Hildebrandt, Jessica C. Teets, Jennifer Y.J. Hsu, and Carolyn L. Hsu.). DOI: 10.1177/18681026211052052

2020 “How the Ideology of ‘Quality’ Protects Civil Society in Xi Jinping's China.” China Information. DOI: 10.1177/0920203X19897167

2018 – "The Rise of NGOs in the People’s Republic of China," Chapter in ​Handbook of Research on NGOs, edited by Aynsley Kellow and Hannah Murphy-Gregory. Edward Elgar Publishers.

2017 – "NGO Strategies in an Authoritarian Context, and their Implications for Citizenship: The Case of the People's Republic of China." (Co-authored with Jennifer Y.J. Hsu and Reza Hamath). Voluntas 28 (3): 1157-1179. DOI 10.1007/s11266-016-9806-0

2016 – “Is China’s New Overseas NGO Management Law Sounding the Death Knell for Civil Society? Maybe Not.” (Co-authored with Jessca Teets). The Asia Pacific Journal. 14 (4).

2015 – “China Youth Development Foundation: GONGO (Government-Organized NGO) or GENGO (Government-Exploiting NGO)?” Chapter in NGO Governance and Management in China, edited by Reza Hasmath and Jennifer Hsu. Routledge. 

2015 –  “An Institutional Approach to Chinese NGOs: State Alliance Versus State Avoidance Resource Strategies.” China Quarterly. 221: 100-122.

2011 – “Even Further beyond Civil Society: The Rise of Internet-Oriented Chinese NGOs (Response to Kin-Man Chan and Li Zhang), ” Journal of Civil Society. 7(1): 123-7.

2010 – “Beyond Civil Society: An Organizational Perspective on State–NGO Relations in the People's Republic of China.” Journal of Civil Society. 6 (3): 259 – 277

2010 – "Corruption or Social Capital?  Tact and the Performance of Guanxi in Market Socialist China,” (co-authored with Alan Smart) in Public Sector Corruption, Edited by Michael Johnston, Sage Publications

2008 – "Rehabilitating Charity in China: The Case of Project Hope and the Rise of Nonprofit Organizations". Journal of Civil Society. 4 (2): 81-96.

2008 – "The School in the City and the City in the School: Ideological Transformations in China.” Visual Studies. 23 (1): 20-33

2007 – "Corruption or Social Capital? Tact and the Performance of Guanxi in Market Socialist China," (co-authored with Alan Smart) for Corruption and the Secret of Law: A Legal Anthropological Perspective, edited by Monique Nuijten and Gerhard Anders. Ashgate. Pages 167-190.

2006 – "Cadres, Getihu, and Good Businesspeople: The Social Construction of Entrepreneurs in Early Post-Socialist China," Urban Anthropology, 35 (1): 1-38.

2006 – "Market Ventures, Moral Logics, and Ambiguity." The Sociological Quarterly, 47: 69-92.

2005 – "A Taste of Modernity: Working in a Western Restaurant in Market Socialist China," Ethnography, 6(4): 543-565.

2005 – "Capitalism Without Contracts Versus Capitalists Without Capitalism: Comparing the Influence of Chinese Guanxi and Russian Blat on Marketization." Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 38:309-327.

2001 – "Political Narratives and the Production of Legitimacy: The Case of Corruption in Post-Mao China." Qualitative Sociology, 24 (1): 25-54.

1996 – "Corruption and Morality in the People's Republic of China." Indiana East Asian Working Paper Series 8 1-26.

  • Environmental Problems and Environmental Activism in China (with Prof. April Baptiste)
    • This course includes a 3-week extended study trip to China.
  • Classical Social Theory
  • Nations and Nationalism
  • Senior Seminar in Sociology
  • High Honors Thesis Workshop
  • CORE Communities and Identity: China
  • Globalization, Culture and Everyday Life

I am married to Christopher Henke, who is also a sociology professor here at Colgate. We have one daughter, Lin, born in 2001.

I have served as an elder at my church, Hamilton Bible Fellowship, although I don't feel old enough to be called an "elder."