Dr. Qing Lai teaches sociology and research methods at the Department of Global & Sociocultural Studies. He earned his PhD in Sociology at the University of Michigan where he received training at the Population Study Centre and Survey Research Centre. He does research in the stratification of Chinese society in terms of family, education and work. Dr. Lai’s more recent work has focused on the Chinese Muslim society. He has published in / Social Science Research, Research in the Sociology of Work, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Chinese Sociological Review, Chinese Journal of Sociology/ (forthcoming), and Journal of Minority Muslim Affairs.
Dr. Lai’s research addresses three aspects of Muslims in China—their internal heterogeneity, their relations with the non-Muslim Han majority and the Chinese state, and their faith-based identity beyond state boundaries. The 23 million Muslims in China constitute a population that is comparable in size to some major Middle Eastern Muslim countries. Dr. Lai uses Chinese census data to document the Chinese Muslim community’s population structure, residential distribution, socioeconomic status, and inter-ethnic relations. He also capitalizes on the spousal choices of Hui, China’s largest Muslim group, to study the inter-ethnoreligious relation between Hui and Han, as well as the relation between the Muslim society and the Chinese state. His work also shows that the transnational Islamic identity constitutes a significant ideational force particularly in northwestern China, which has led local Muslims to perceive a different world developmental hierarchy that favors foreign countries with strong Islamic features.