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Guest Lecture by Professor Shigeto Sonoda




Why Chinese Citizens are so Positive toward Party and Government? : Chronological Analysis of Four-city Survey, 1998-2014



Professor Shigeto SONODA



13 Feb 2016, Saturday



9.30am – 12.00pm



Seminar Room 904, level 9
NTU@One-North Campus, Executive Centre


Sonoda.jpgAbout the Speaker:
Prof. Shigeto Sonoda is a professor of sociology and Asian studies at the University of Tokyo.  After his 19 years’ service for private universities, Prof. Sonoda went back to his alma mater in 2009 when he was appointed as professor both at the Interfaculty Initiative for Information Stuides and Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (former Institute of Oriental Culture) .

Prof. Sonoda has taken initiatives in conducting researches including AsiaBarometer 2003-2008, Asia Student Survey 2008-2013, Tianjin Annual Survey 1997-2011. His special interest is in social stratification and globalization of cultures in Asia, and localization process of Japanese company in Asian countries.  

The Puzzle behind the Chinese Citizens’ Unwavering Support for the Chinese Communist Party and Government
By Stephen Ho, graduate student, MACC

We were deeply honoured to have Professor Shigeto Sonoda come by our early Saturday class on 13 Feb 2016 at NTU@One-North to share with us the results from his extensive survey on the Chinese citizens’ sentiments towards their government entitled “Why Chinese Citizens are so positive toward Party and Government?: Chronological Analysis of Four-City Survey, 1998 - 2014”. Though he had just arrived in Singapore after a red-eyed flight, his lively delivery of the topic kept everyone glued to their seats!

A distinguished scholar and Professor of Sociology at the University of Tokyo, Professor Sonoda is a firm believer of data-driven determination of social behavior. Spanning over two decades, the surveys were carried out in the Chinese cities of Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Tianjin eight years’ apart on three occasions – 1998, 2006 and 2014.

Professor Sonoda started his lecture elaborating his approach for the surveys; highlighting the difficulty faced by a foreign researcher in conducting on-site sociological studies and the absolute need to have a reliable local Chinese partner for that purpose. He shared critical insights into the preparation of the questionnaire, ranging from the design of the cover page to the way the questions were being phrased, all done to encourage the respondents’ active participation.

Thought-provoking findings uncovered in his surveys included the fact that though the self-perceived level of social standing for some of the respondents seemingly dropped over the years, the positive sentiments towards the Chinese Communist Party and Government contrarily improved. Professor Sonoda attributed this phenomenon to the enhanced “sense of betterment” amongst the respondents over time as well as the respondents’ beliefs that the social inequality was a function of fair competition in the market economy. This ground-breaking survey prompted the Chinese government to carry out similar chronological surveys.

The highly interactive seminar was peppered with Professor Sonoda’s numerous personal anecdotes, giving an unique view into the fascinating world of, and hardship associated with, sociological field studies; eliciting an endless stream of questions from the class in the process.

Asked if he would carry out another round of survey in eight years’ time, Professor Sonoda candidly responded that he would be nearing retirement then and was looking for a successor to carry on with the work. Given that many in the audience were piqued by Professor Sonoda’s passion, one would not be surprised to find someone stepping forth to take up the challenge in the near future!


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