Joel Andreas

Joel Andreas

Professor & DUS

Contact Information

Research Interests: Political contention, social inequality, and social change in contemporary China

Education: PhD, University of California, Los Angeles

I joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins in 2003 after completing a doctoral degree in sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. My research interests include political contention, social inequality, and social change in contemporary China. I am an active member of the East Asian Studies Program at Hopkins and am currently serving as program director. I teach social theory at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as courses on political sociology and contemporary Chinese society. I travel to China regularly and have held visiting positions at the University of Sydney, the University of Adelaide, Hong Kong University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Koç University, and Ningxia University.

My research involves the transitions to and from socialism in China. I was drawn to studying China because it was the site of the most radical of the major 20th century socialist experiments. A central interest has been uncovering the reasons why protracted efforts during the Mao era to do away with class distinctions failed. In my current research, while I am continuing to study the social experiments of the Mao era, I am also examining the tumultuous changes taking place in China today. This includes investigating the capitalist transformation of the Chinese economy over the last two decades, which has led to spectacular economic growth, while at the same time transforming China—once one of the world’s most egalitarian societies in terms of income distribution—into a paragon of economic inequality. While I am interested in the rise of new propertied classes, my research has focused mainly on the dislocation and dispossession of workers and peasants through industrial restructuring and the scaling up of agriculture.

My 2009 book, Rise of the Red Engineers: The Cultural Revolution and the Origins of China’s New Class (Stanford, 2009), analyzes the contentious process through which two mutually hostile groups—the poorly educated peasant revolutionaries who seized power in 1949 and China’s old educated elite—coalesced to form a new dominant class. Mao’s attacks on both old and new elites during the Cultural Revolution, I argue, spurred inter-elite unity, paving the way—after his death—for the consolidation of a new class that combined their political and cultural resources. This story is told through a case study of Tsinghua University, which—as China’s premier school of technology—was at the epicenter of these conflicts and became the preferred training ground for technocratic officials, including many of China’s current leaders.

My second book, Disenfranchised: The Rise and Fall of Industrial Citizenship in China (Oxford, 2019), recounts the tumultuous events that have shaped and reshaped factory politics in China over the past seven decades. The book develops a theoretical framework consisting of two dimensions—industrial citizenship and autonomy—to explain changing authority relations in workplaces and uses interviews with workers and managers to provide a shop-floor perspective. Under the work unit system, in place from the 1950s to the 1980s, lifetime job tenure and participatory institutions gave workers a strong form of industrial citizenship, but constraints on autonomous collective action made the system more paternalistic than democratic. Called “masters of the factory,” workers were pressed to participate actively in self-managing teams and employee congresses, but only under the all-encompassing control of the factory party committee. Concerned that party cadres were becoming a “bureaucratic class,” Mao experimented with means to mobilize criticism from below, even inciting—during the Cultural Revolution—a worker insurgency that overthrew factory party committees. Unwilling to allow workers to establish permanent autonomous organizations, however, Mao never came up with institutionalized means of making factory leaders accountable to their subordinates. The final chapters recount the process of industrial restructuring, which has transformed work units into profit-oriented enterprises, eliminating industrial citizenship and reducing workers to hired hands dependent on precarious employment and subject to highly coercive discipline. The book closes with an overview of parallel developments around the globe, chronicling the rise and fall of an era of industrial citizenship.

  • 230.213 Social Theory
  • 230.275 Revolution, Reform and Social Inequality in China
  • 230.396 Politics and Society
  • 230.415 Social Problems in Contemporary China
  • 230.602 Classical Social Theory
  • 230.603 Contemporary Social Theory
  • 230.609 Dissertation Research Seminar
  • 230.651 Political Sociology
  • 230.685 Trial Research Paper: Proposal Seminar
  • 230.690 Trial Research Paper: Presentation Seminar
  • 310.402 Labor Politics in China


Joel Andreas, editor, Factory Politics in China (Volume 5, Rethinking Socialism and Reform in China series). Leiden: Brill (2019)

Disenfranchised: The Rise and Fall of Industrial Citizenship in China. New York: Oxford University Press (2019)

Rise of the Red Engineers: The Cultural Revolution and the Origins of China’s New Class. Stanford University Press (2009)

Journal Articles

Joel Andreas. “Paths not Taken” New Left Review, No. 130 (2021), pp. 101-111

Joel Andreas, Michael Levien, Sunila Kale, and Qian Forrest Zhang. “Rural land dispossession in China and India: Introduction.” The Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 47, No. 6 (2020), pp. 1109-1142

Qiangqiang Luo and Joel Andreas. “Mobilizing compliance: Coercive transfer of farmland in northwest China.” The Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 47, No. 6 (2020), pp. 1189-1210

Joel Andreas and Yige Dong. “The brief, tumultuous history of ‘big democracy’ in China’s factories.” Modern China, Vol. 44, Issue 5 (2018), pp. 455-496

Qiangqiang Luo, Joel Andreas and Yao Li, “Grapes of Wrath: Twisting Arms to Get Villagers to Cooperate with Agribusiness in China.” The China Journal, No. 77 (2017), pp. 27-50

安舟 (Joel Andreas). 中华人民共和国史划时代的分界 (Epochal breaks in PRC history)《开放时代》(Open times), No. 1 (2017)

Joel Andreas and Shaohua Zhan. “Hukou and land: Market reform and rural displacement in China.” Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 43, Issue 4 (2016), pp. 798-827

Qiangqiang Luo and Joel Andreas. “Using religion to resist rural dispossession: A case study of Hui Muslims in northwest China.” The China Quarterly, No. 226 (2016), pp. 477-498

Joel Andreas. “Sino-seismology” New Left Review, No. 75 (2012), pp. 128-135

Joel Andreas. “A Shanghai Model?” New Left Review, No. 65 (2010), pp. 63-85

Joel Andreas. “Changing Colours in China.” New Left Review, No. 54, (2008), pp. 123-142

Joel Andreas. “The structure of charismatic mobilization: A case study of rebellion during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.” American Sociological Review, Vol. 72, No. 3 (2007), pp. 434-458

Joel Andreas. “Institutionalized rebellion: Governing Tsinghua University during the late years of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.” The China Journal, No. 55 (2006), pp. 1-28

Joel Andreas. “Leveling the ‘little pagoda:’ The impact of college entrance examinations—and their elimination—on rural education in China.” Comparative Education Review, Vol. 48, No. 1 (2004), pp. 1-47

Joel Andreas. “Battling over political and cultural power during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.” Theory and Society, Vol. 31 (2002), pp. 463-519

安舟 (Joel Andreas) and 王晓阳 (Wang Xiaoyang). 质量与平等-州大学与清华大学招生问题比较研究 (“Quality and equality: Comparing admissions policies at the University of California and Tsinghua University”) 《清华大学教育研究》 (Tsinghua University research on education), September (2001)

Book Chapters & Sections

Joel Andreas, “‘Oppose Restoring the Old!’ Culmination of the Rebel Workers’ Movement during the Cultural Revolution,” in Ivan Franceschini and Christian Sorace, eds., Proletarian China: A Century of Chinese Labour. London: Verso (2021)

Joel Andreas. “Rapid urbanization and rural displacement in China” in Rebecca Clothey and Richardson Dilworth, eds., China’s Urban Future and the Quest for Stability. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press (2020), pp. 56-78

Joel Andreas. “Mass supervision” in Christian Sorace, Ivan Franceschini, and Nicholas Loubere, eds., Afterlives of Chinese Communism: Political Concepts from Mao to Xi. Verso and ANU Press (2019), pp. 125-31

Joel Andreas and Yige Dong. “‘Mass supervision’ and the bureaucratization of governance in China” in Vivienne Shue and Patricia Thornton, eds., To Govern China: Evolving Practices of Power, Cambridge University Press (2017), pp. 123-155

Joel Andreas. “Reconfiguring China’s Class Order after the 1949 Revolution” in Yingjie Guo, ed., Handbook of Class and Social Stratification in China, Edward Elgar Publishing (2016), pp. 21-43

Joel Andreas. “Charisma” in David Snow, Donatella Della Porta, Bert Klandermans, and Doug McAdam, editors, The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social and Political Movements, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing (2013)

Joel Andreas. “Industrial Restructuring and Class Transformation in China” in Beatriz Carrillo and David Goodman, editors, China’s Peasants and Workers: Changing Class Identities, Edward Elgar Publishing (2012), pp. 102-123