CfA: Research position in a project on intergenerational relations and filial piety in China (deadline: 2020-01-16)


Research position in a project on intergenerational relations and filial piety in China
We are looking for a PhD researcher in the research project “civilized families” on intergenerational relations and filial piety in China funded by the German Research Association for 3 years led by Dr. Marius Meinhof at Bielefeld University.

In the last years, government propaganda and public debate in China have started to promote traditional Chinese culture. One obvious example for this is the appellation of filial piety, in Chinese xiao (孝). This, however, raises the question, if and how the discourse on socialist modernization and the iconoclastic heritage of the May Fourth movement can be aligned with the appellation of traditional Chineseness.

The project “civilized families” will use ethnographic and videographic data to construct an empirically grounded theory of the use of traditional culture in the Chinese governmentality regime, especially the culture of filial piety, xiao. By combining different types of qualitative data, the project will research and compare state discourse, popular discourses, and practices of actual Chinese families. The guiding research question is: How is filial piety constructed and negotiated between state discourses and everyday practices? This question is divided into three sub-questions: (1) How do state discourses on filial piety and civilized families bring together the aim of creating a modern population and the notions of Chinese or Asian traditional identity? (2) How are intergenerationality and kinship, and especially the notion of filial piety, imagined and negotiated in everyday life practices and discourses in Chinese families? (3) Are there similarities or contradictions between the notion of filial piety and kinship/family in state discourses and in popular discourses or practices? For example, to which degree do state discourses and popular discourses mutually appropriate each other’s arguments and constructs in relation to filial piety?

We are looking for a PhD candidate who may support us in raising different kind of data for the project, and who is interested in writing a doctoral thesis related to the topic of the project. The PhD candidate will either specialize on official discourse and state institutional practices of promoting xiao (based on critical discourse analysis of state institutions), or specialize on everyday discourse and practice of intergenerational relations within Chinese families (based on ethnography, videography and interviewing).

Your responsibilities include:

  • raising, viewing and analyzing data for the overall project (This may include field research in China) (50 %)
  • participation in data sessions and project meetings (10 %)
  • contributions to joint publications and presentations at international conferences (15 %)
  • independent research and publication activities (25 %)

We expect

  • a degree (master or diploma) in sociology, social sciences, social anthropology or related disciplines
  • chinese language ability on native level
  • ability to discuss and communicate research results in either English or German
  • independent, self-reliant and committed way of working
  • distinctive organisational and coordination skills
  • cooperative and team-oriented working style

Preferable qualifications

  • interest in a doctoral thesis on an independent topic related to the project topic
  • independent field access
  • a background in sociology of China
  • experience with the methods, theories or topics of the research project


Salary will be paid according to Remuneration level 13 of the Wage Agreement for Public Service in the Federal States (TV-L). As stipulated in § 2 (1) paragraph 1 of the WissZeitVG (fixed-term employment), the contract will end on 31st August 2023. In accordance with the provisions of the WissZeitVG and the Agreement on Satisfactory Conditions of Employment, the length of contract may differ in individual cases. The employment is designed to encourage further academic qualification.

The position is advertised as 65 % part-time job. In individual cases, this percentage may be reduced on request, as long as this does not conflict with official needs.

Bielefeld University is particularly committed to equal opportunities and the career development of its employees. It offers attractive internal and external training and further training programmes. Employees have the opportunity to use a variety of health, counselling, and prevention programmes. Bielefeld University places great importance on a work-family balance for all its employees.

Application Procedure

For full consideration, your application should be received via either post (see postal address below) or email (a single PDF) document sent to by the 16th of January 2020. Please mark your application with the identification code: wiss19265. For your application, please send in one single PDF-File in English or German: academic diploma (may be in Chinese), CV,

a 2-3 pages proposal for a possible PhD thesis which explains the possible synergies with the overall project and a one page cover letter in which you briefly declare possible previous experiences with methods, theories or topics of the project, existing field access or field access strategies, and in which you explain what you think you can contribute to the project. Please do not use application portfolios and send only photocopies of original documents because all application materials will be destroyed at the end of the selection procedure.

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Postal Address

Universität Bielefeld

Fakultät für Soziologie

Herrn Dr. Marius Meinhof

P.O. Box: 10 01 31

33501 Bielefeld



Name: Dr. Marius Meinhof

Phone: (+49) 351 463 37402