Deborah Davis

Deborah Davis's picture
Professor of Sociology
Ph.D., Sociology, Boston University, 1979;
M.A., East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1970;
B.A., Political Science, Wellesley College, 1967
Areas of Interest: 
Comparative and Historical Sociology; Economic Sociology and Organizations; Family/Gender/Sexuality; Global, Regional and Transnational Sociology; Methods.
493 College St, Room 301, New Haven, CT 06511-8907
Phone number: 

Deborah S. Davis primary teaching interests are inequality and stratification, contemporary Chinese society, and methods of fieldwork. In addition to teaching at Yale, she runs a summer fieldwork seminar where Yale students work collaboratively with students from Hong Kong and China. Davis is currently a member of the National Committee on US China Relations, Associate Editor of The Journal of Asian Studies, and on the editorial board of The China Quarterly. In 2004 she helped launch the Yale China Health Journal. At Yale she has served as Director of Academic Programs at the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, Chair of the Department of Sociology, Chair of the Council of East Asian Studies, Director of Graduate Studies in both East Asian Studies and Sociology, Member of the Publications Committee for Yale Press, co-chair of the Women Faculty Forum and Member of the Tenure Appointments Committee for the Social Sciences.

Author or editor of 10 books, past publications have analyzed the politics of the Cultural Revolution, Chinese family life, social welfare policy, consumer culture, property rights, social stratification and occupational mobility. In 2009, Stanford University Press published Creating Wealth and Poverty in Post-Socialist China, co-edited with Wang Feng. Forthcoming with Stanford in 2014 is a volume entitled Wives, Husbands and Lovers: Marriage and Sexuality in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Urban China, co-edited with Sara Friedman. Also forthcoming are essays that use satellite night-time light images to track and estimate the social impact of urbanization in China. Currently she is completing a monograph entitled A Home of Their Own, a study of the social consequences of the privatization on the institution of marriage in Shanghai. 

A graduate of Wellesley College, Davis received a Masters degree in East Asian Studies from Harvard, a Ph.D. in Sociology from Boston University and post-doctoral research grants from ACLS, SSRC, the National Academy of Sciences, NIA, and the Luce, Rockefeller, and Templeton Foundations. In 2013 she was awarded the Yale College Lex Hixon ’63 Teaching Prize for Excellence in the Social Sciences.

Audio Visual


  • (2014) Re-Placing the Rural Urban Binary. Tan Chin Tuan lectureship, Yale-NUS College.
  • (2011) The MacMillan Report: Marriage and Divorce Trends in China. Professor Davis organized a workshop at Hong Kong University as part of a larger project on post-socialist marriage and sexuality. During this online interview, she talks about the changing trends of marriage and divorce in China.
  • (2009) Great Issues Forum: Power of Education. Held at the CUNY Graduate Center, this forum features James J. Duderstadt, President Emeritus and University Professor of Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan; Deborah Davis, former director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization; Enrique Dussel Peters, Professor of Economics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico; and Yu Lizhong, President of East China Normal University. William Kelly, President of the Graduate Center, moderates.

Recent Publications




Courses and Seminars


  • SOCY 086, Chinese Society Since Mao.
  • SOCY 140, Four Giants of the Modern World: A Comparison of Societies.
  • SOCY 325, Topics in Contemporary Chinese Society.
  • SOCY 395, Wealth and Poverty in Modern China.


  • SOCY 504, Research Methods: Design and Data Collection.
  • SOCY 507, Social Science Workshop on Contemporary China.
  • SOCY 561, Topics in Contemporary Chinese Society.