Social sciences arguably only emerged in the People’s Republic of China in the late 1970s when the Chinese economic reform began. This research project aims to examine and theorize the theoretical and institutional evolution of social sciences in China. The first objective is to identify and understand the key actors and forces driving paradigm shift, institutional change, and development of Chinese social sciences in the past four decades. The second objective is to examine the emergence and construction of indigenous Chinese concepts and theories in recent years when China is ascending rapidly in the global science system. It tries to ascertain how Chinese scholars theorize the world in five disciplines: economics, political science, sociology, anthropology and (emerging) area studies. It employs mixed methods, using academic and non-academic sources in English and Chinese.
Theoretically, this project develops a transnational and transcultural perspective on Chinese knowledge production. It especially looks at how knowledge exchange and scientific collaboration between Chinese, North American and European scholars, as well as interaction and cooperation in various transnational epistemic communities and networks, shape the development of social sciences in China. Accordingly, it draws theoretical insights from global political economy, economic sociology, and the sociology of knowledge.
In sum, this project sheds theoretical and empirical light on how social sciences emerged, developed, and are unfolding in contemporary China. The findings may offer a broader understanding of similar knowledge production processes and practices in other countries, regions and institutions in the global science system. Moreover, this research contributes to the theoretical diversification of global social sciences.