Professor Rachel Murphy

Professor Rachel Murphy
Head of School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies; Director of Contemporary Chinese Studies; Professor of Chinese Development and Society

Prof Murphy will not be accepting any new doctoral students for the October 2018 intake.

Rachel Murphy has been Head of SIAS since January 2015. She is a sociologist whose research examines transformations in China’s interior occurring because of the inter-related processes of industrialization, urbanization, demographic transition, modernization (especially through state-endorsed projects such as education), marketisation and the expansion of communications technologies. Over the past sixteen years to understand these changes she has conducted in-depth longitudinal ethnography, extensive interviews, documentary research and small-scale surveys in villages, townships, counties and cities. Her monograph of 2002 offered one of the first analyses of return migration and returnee entrepreneurship in China’s rural heartlands. She is presently writing a book about the children of rural-urban labour migrants in two rapidly-urbanizing interior provinces.

Rachel serves on the editorial board of the China Quarterly (executive committee) and she is a co-editor of the Routledge book series Comparative Development and Policy in Asia. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Australia Business School.

Teaching: Rachel contributes to teaching on research methods and the sociology of China. Recently completed and ongoing doctoral students’ projects include orphanages in China, dispatch labourers in Nanjing, migrant NGOs in the Pearl River Delta, migrants’ children in Sichuan, the representation of model workers in the Chinese media, migrants’ perceptions of home in Shanghai, political identity in Taiwan, domestic violence among Tibetan communities in Qinghai, female e-commerce entrepreneurs in China, Chinese women’s political participation, mission trips to China by Chinese Canadians, and university to work transitions in China.

Degrees: BA Hons (Murdoch University, Western Australia), 1994; PhD (Cantab), 1999

Research Activities and Interests:  

·         labour migration and urbanisation;

·         education, culture and social mobility;

·         anthropological demography, esp. gender imbalances            

·         rural transformation,

·         social marginalisation and social policy

Current Research Project:

The Children of China’s Great Migration and Urbanisation


Books and Special Issues:

*David Johnson and Rachel Murphy (eds.) (2009) ‘Education and Development in China’, special issue of International Journal of Educational Development, 29 (5), Elsevier – Contributed a co-authored introduction and a co-authored article.

*Rachel Murphy (ed.) (2008) Labour Migration and Social Development in Contemporary China, Routledge. Contributed the introduction and a sole-authored chapter.

*Rachel Murphy and Vanessa L. Fong (eds.) (2008) Media, Identity and Struggle in 21st Century China, Routledge.

*Vanessa. L. Fong and Rachel Murphy (eds.) (2006) Chinese Citizenship: Views from the Margins, Routledge. Contributed a co-authored introduction and sole-authored chapter.

*Rachel Murphy (2002) How Migrant Labor is Changing Rural China, Cambridge University Press [Monograph also published in Chinese translation in 2009 by Zhejiang People’s Publishing House]

Selected Articles:

*Rachel Murphy, Minhui Zhou and Ran Tao (2016) 'Parents’ Migration and Children’s Subjective Wellbeing and Health: Evidence from Rural China', Population, Space and Place, 22 (8): 766-780. *Rachel Murphy (2014) 'Sex Ratio Imbalances and China's Care for Girls Programme: A Case Study of a Social Problem,' The China Quarterly, 219 (Sept): 781-807.

*Minhui Zhou, Rachel Murphy and Ran Tao (2014) 'Effects of Parents' Migration on the Education of Children Left Behind in Rural China', Population and Development Review, 40 (2), 273-292.

*Rachel Murphy (2014) ‘Study and School in the Lives of Children in Migrant Families: A View from Rural Jiangxi, China’, Development and Change, 45 (1), 29-51.

*Rachel Murphy, Ran Tao and Xi Lu (2011) ‘Son Preference in Rural China: Patrilineal Families and Socio-Economic Change’, Population and Development Review, 37 (4) (Dec): 665-690.

*Mingxing Liu, Wang Juan, Ran Tao and Rachel Murphy (2009) 'The Political Economy of Earmarked Transfers in a State-Designated Poor County in Western China', China Quarterly, (Dec): 973-994.

*Mingxing Liu, Rachel Murphy, Ran Tao and Xiehui An (2009) ‘Education Management and Performance after Rural Education Finance Reform’, International Journal of Educational Development: 29 (5): 463-473.

*Rachel Murphy (2007) ‘The Paradox of China’s Official State Media Reinforcing Poor Governance: Case Studies of a Party Newspaper and an Anti-Corruption Film,’ Critical Asian Studies, (Mar) 39 (1): 63-88. Reprinted in Murphy and Fong, eds. (2008).

*Liu Liangqun and Rachel Murphy (2006) ‘Lineage Identities, Land Conflicts and Rural Migration in Late Socialist China’, Journal of Peasant Studies, 33 (4) (Oct): 612-645.

*Rachel Murphy (2004) ‘Turning Chinese Peasants into Modern Citizens: ‘Population Quality’, Demographic Transition, and Primary Schools’, China Quarterly, 177, (Mar):1-20 – Winner of the Gordon White Prize.

*Rachel Murphy (2003) ‘Fertility and Distorted Sex Ratios in Rural China: Culture, State and Policy,’ Population and Development Review, 29 (4) (Dec): 595-626.

Book Chapters:

*Rachel Murphy (2011) ‘Civil Society and Media in China’, in Charting China’s Future: Domestic and International Challenges, ed. by David Shambaugh, Routledge, pp. 57-66.

*Rachel Murphy (2010) 'The Narrowing Digital Divide: A View from Rural China', in One Country, Two Societies: Rural-Urban Inequality in Contemporary China, ed. by M.K. Whyte, Harvard University Press, pp. 168-187.

*Rachel Murphy (2007) ‘Paying for Education in Rural China’, in Paying For Progress in China: Public Finance, Human Welfare and Changing Patterns of Inequality, ed. by V. Shue and C. Wong, Routledge, 69-95.

*Rachel Murphy and Ran Tao (2006) ‘No Wage and No Land: New Forms of Unemployment in Rural China’, in Unemployment in China, ed. by G. Lee and M. Warner, Routledge, 128-149.

*Rachel Murphy (2004) ‘Chinese Ethnography of State and Society’, in China Along the Yellow River, by J. Cao, Routledge, 1-15.

*Rachel Murphy (2004) ‘The Impact of Labour Migration on the Well-Being and Agency of Rural Chinese Women’, in On the Move: Women and Rural-Urban Migration in Contemporary China, ed. by A. Gaetano and T. Jacka, Columbia University Press, 227-262.

Recent Presentations:

*13th April 2016: Gender and the Wellbeing of Children in Rural China Whose Parents Have Migrated without Them, UWA Economics Department Seminar Series.

*‘What Does ‘Left Behind’ Mean in Rural China? Children’s Perspectives’, Conference on Migration, Social Reproduction and Social Protection, University of East Anglia at London, 2nd -3rd April 2012.

*‘School in the Lives of Children in Migrant Families: A View from Rural China’, Population Dynamics in South and East Asia, British Academy and Royal Society, 29th-30th March 2012.

*‘Sex Ratio Imbalances and China’s Care for Girls Programme’, Seminar Series, Sociology Department, University of Cambridge, 1st March 2012.

Research Funding:

British Academy Mid-Career FellowshipThe Children of China’s Great Migration and Urbanisation, 2013 - 2014.

British Academy Career Development GrantParental Labour Migration and the Wellbeing of Children Left Behind in Rural China, awarded in 2007, postponed till 2009, completed 2012.

OUP John Fell Fund Grant – Parental Labour Migration and the Wellbeing of Children Left Behind in Rural China, supplementary support for data gathering, awarded 2009, completed 2012.

BICC Small Grant - Patrilineal Families and Sex Ratio Imbalances in Rural China, awarded 2007, completed 2011.

Nuffield Foundation Small GrantSources of Political Will for Social Development (case study of policy measures addressing China’s sex ratio imbalance), awarded 2006, completed in 2012 with supplementary fieldwork supported by BICC at Oxford.

International Organisation for Migration Labour Migration and Social Development in China, to edit a policy-relevant volume, awarded 2006, completed 2008.

Oxford Contemporary China Studies Programme Small GrantInformation Communication Technologies in Rural China, awarded 2004, completed 2006.

British Academy Joint Activities Grant – Patrilineal Families and Land Conflict in Late Socialist China, awarded 2002, completed 2004.

British Academy International Networks Grant (with Vanessa L. Fong) -To co-arrange two international workshops on Chinese Citizenship (one on the citizenship of marginalised people and one on media and citizenship) and to co-edit the proceedings, 2003-2005, completed 2006.

Cambridge Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, Support for conference on Chinese Citizenship, 2003.

British Council, Support for conference on Chinese Citizenship, 2003.

Simon Population Trust, Population Quality in Rural China, awarded 2000, completed 2003.