People

Patricia M Thornton

Associate Professor of Chinese Politics, DPIR
Fellow, Merton College
AFFILIATION
Government and Politics Network
International Relations Network
College
Merton College

I currently serve as the Chair of the Sub-Faculty of Politics and International Relations, Chair of the PPE Committee, which oversees and manages the PPE degree programme at the University of Oxford. I am also Tutor in Chinese Politics at Merton College.

For more information regarding my publications and research view my personal website; for my up-to-date views and other information on political developments in contemporary China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, follow me on Twitter at @PM_Thornton.

Research

In the broadest possible sense, my research focuses on mapping the interactions—including institutions, practices and networks—between state and social forces in China over time. In Disciplining the State: Virtue, Violence and State-making in Modern China (Harvard, 2007), I argued that the process of state-making in China has been driven both by normative and normalizing goals, and curbed by a conservative calculus that weighs incremental increases in the size and scope of the administration against the projected costs required to support it. The historical result is a minimalist state that relies upon the intermittent mobilisation of social forces to realise a range of ambitious goals. To produce Identity Matters: Ethnic and Sectarian Conflict (Berghahn, 2007), I worked with an international group of Fulbright New Century Scholars to analyse the relationships between collective identity and conflict through a variety of case studies. In Red Shadows: Memories and Legacies of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (Cambridge, 2017), Chris Berry(King's College), Sun Peidong (Fudan University) and I trace the living legacies of China's Cultural Revolution in post-Mao China, 50 years after it began in 1966. In To Govern China: Evolving Practices of Power (Cambridge, 2017), Vivienne Shue and I assembled an international team of China scholars who seek to move beyond the current consensus regarding contemporary China's adaptive 'authoritarian resilience' in order to explore the cross-cutting currents in ongoing processes of political change in contemporary Chinese governance.

My research interests include:

Government, Constitutions, Institutions and Governments, Groups, Identities and Social Movements, Institutions and organisations, Community, Constitutions and Government, Identity, Institutions and organisations, States

Teaching

At the undergraduate level, I teach the Government and Politics of China option, a further option in comparative politics open to both PPE and HP students at the University of Oxford, and part of the Politics Prelims paper for undergraduates at Merton College. I also teach the post-graduate seminar on Chinese politics, open to MSc students in Contemporary Chinese Studies, MPhil students in Modern Chinese Studies and MPhil students in Comparative Government in the Department of Politics and International Relations. I also supervise post-graduate students in the MPhil and DPhil in Politics (Comparative Government) programmes working on various aspects of the domestic politics of China.

Supervisees

  • Siu Yau Lee ( 李肇祐 )(DPhil, 2013): "Explaining Institutional Changes in Authoritarian States: Language Management and Resistance in Contemporary China" (currently Assistant Professor, Department of Asian and Policy Studies, Hong Kong Institute of Education)
  • Yu Tao (陶郁) (DPhil, 2015): "Enemies of the State or Friends of the ‘Harmonious Society’? Religious Groups and Collective Protests in Contemporary Rural China" (currently Lecturer in Chinese Studies, University of Western Australia)
  • Karita Ching-yeung Kan (靳清揚) (DPhil, 2014): "Contesting Urban Futures: Mapping State-Society Relations in China's Urban Development" (currently Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Social Sciences, Hong Kong Polytechnic University) 
  • Xibai Xu (徐曦白) (current DPhil candidate in Politics) "Fragmented Authoritarianism, Selective Control and the Rise of Entrepreneurial Charity in China"
  • Peng Chun (彭錞) (DPhil in Law, 2015) (co-supervision): "Taming the Dragon: Rural Land Acquisition and its Legal Reform in Modern China" (currently Assistant Professor, Beijing University Law School)
  • Samson Wai-Hei Yuen (袁瑋熙) (DPhil in Politics, 2016): "Partners of Authoritarian Governance: The Politics of Community NGOs in China" (currently Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Lingnan University)
  • Sojeong Im (current DPhil candidate in Politics) (co-supervision)
  • Shun-yan Olivia Cheung (current DPhil candidate in Politics)
  • Lu Xiaoyu (current DPhil candidate in Politics)
  • Rowan Alcock (current DPhil candidate in Politics)
  • Jean Mittelstaedt (current DPhil candidate in Politics)
Patricia M. Thornton