Chronicle

Center’s Fellow
April 11, 2019
We are happy to introduce Dr. Pierre Miège, who would be our guest research fellow in April 2019. He has been an Associate Professor of Sociology at Beijing Normal University (China) since 2007. For his PhD, Dr. Miège studied the social organization of Chinese cities up to the early 2000s, and particularly the central role of workplaces in arranging the relationship between society and the party state. From 2005, Pierre also engaged in research of high-risk behavior and the HIV epidemic, especially among same-sex attracted men. Currently, he is building on the knowledge collected through these different projects to question the transformation of social norms and the emergence of the individual in a changing urban society in China.

Currently he is preparing the manuscript for a book which describes the way "work unit system" has been built and how it not only dominated the lives of urban Chinese for four decades, but helps understand recent social changes. Indeed, one of the major difficulties when Chinese authorities abandoned this "work unit system" was that there was no administrative apparatus capable of taking over the millions of schools, hospitals, and housing buildings of the danwei. The work units might have been dismantled but they continue to shape the current social welfare arrangements of urban China.

Dr. Miège’s book will offer primarily an analysis of this social history of urban China from the 1950s. However, he is going to include a chapter that proposes a comparison between the Chinese danwei and the Soviet and European experiences with socialism. During his residency at the Center he will study the way social insurance and welfare, education, and housing have been organized, ran, and distributed among the population during state socialism and after, and therefore, complete the comparison between the "socialist social contract" in China and the Soviet Union.