Rachel Murphy


Associate Professor of Sociology of China 

Faculty / College Address:

China Centre / St Antony's College



Research Interests:

  • Labour migration and urbanisation
  • Education, culture and social mobility
  • Gender imbalances
  • Rural transformation
  • Informal and formal land arrangements

Current Projects:

  • The Children of China’s Great Migration and Urbanisation
  • Son Preference and Imbalanced Sex Ratios at Birth

Courses Taught:

  • Sociology of China
  • The Study of Contemporary China
  • Research Methods (Qualitative)

Recent Publications:

  • Rachel Murphy (forthcoming) ‘Sex Ratio Imbalances and China’s Care for Girls Programme: a Case Study of a Social Problem’, China Quarterly.
  • Minhui Zhou, Rachel Murphy and Ran Tao (2014) 'Effects of Parents' Migration on the Education of Children Left Behind in Rural China', Population and Development Review 40 (2) (June) : 273-292.
  • Rachel Murphy (2014) ‘School and Study in the Lives of Children in Migrant Families: A View from Rural Jiangxi, China’, Development and Change 45 (1): 29-51.
  • Rachel Murphy, Ran Tao and Xi Lu (2011) ‘Son Preference in Rural China: Patrilineal Families and Socio-Economic Change’, Population and Development Review, 37 (4): 665-690.
  • Rachel Murphy (2011) ‘Civil Society and Media in China’, in Charting China’s Future: Domestic and International Challenges, ed. by David Shambaugh, Routledge, pp. 57-66.
  • Rachel Murphy (2010) ‘The Narrowing Digital Divide: A View from Rural China’, in One Country, Two Societies: Rural-Urban Inequality in Contemporary China, ed. by M.K. Whyte, Harvard University Press, pp. 168-187.
  • Mingxing Liu, Wang Juan, Ran Tao and Rachel Murphy (2009) 'The Political Economy of Earmarked Transfers in a State-Designated Poor County in Western China', China Quarterly, (December): 973-994.
  • David Johnson and Rachel Murphy (eds.) (2009) ‘Education and Development in China’, special issue of International Journal of Educational Development, 29 (5), Elsevier.
    • Rachel Murphy and David Johnson (2009) ‘Education and Development in China: Institutions, Curriculum and Society’: 447-453.
    • Mingxing Liu, Rachel Murphy, Ran Tao and Xiehui An (2009) ‘Education Management and Performance after Rural Education Finance Reform’: 463-473.
  • Rachel Murphy (ed.) (2008) Labour Migration and Social Development in Contemporary China, Routledge – a policy-relevant volume commissioned by the International Organisation for Migration [contributors: Jude Howell, Caroline Hoy, Pun Ngai, Ran Tao, Dewen Wang & Fang Cai, Yaping Wang, Terry Woronov]
    • Murphy ‘Introduction: Labour Migration and Social Development in China.’
    • Murphy ‘Migrant Remittances in China: the Distribution of Economic Benefits and Social Costs.’
  • Rachel Murphy and Vanessa L. Fong (eds.) (2008) Media, Identity and Struggle in 21st Century China, Routledge.
    • Rachel Murphy (2007) ‘The Paradox of China’s Official State Media Reinforcing Poor Governance: Case Studies of a Party Newspaper and an Anti-Corruption Film,’ Critical Asian Studies, (Mar) 39 (1): 63-88, reprinted in Murphy and Fong, (2008).
  • Rachel Murphy (2007) ‘Paying for Education in Rural China’, in Paying For Progress in China: Public Finance, Human Welfare and Changing Patterns of Inequality, ed. by V. Shue and C. Wong, Routledge, 69-95.
  • Liu Liangqun and Rachel Murphy (2006) ‘Lineage Identities, Land Conflicts and Rural Migration in Late Socialist China’, Journal of Peasant Studies, 33 (4) (October): 612-645.
  • Vanessa. L. Fong and Rachel Murphy (eds.) (2006) Chinese Citizenship: Views from the Margins, Routledge.
    • Rachel Murphy and Vanessa L. Fong ‘Introduction: Chinese Experiences of Citizenship at the Margins’, pp. 1-8.
    • Rachel Murphy ‘Citizenship Education in China: The Technical and Dispositional Training of Cadres and Farmers’, pp. 9-26.
  • Rachel Murphy and Ran Tao (2006) ‘No Wage and No Land: New Forms of Unemployment in Rural China’, in Unemployment in China, ed. by G. Lee and M. Warner, Routledge, 128-149.
  • Rachel Murphy (2004) ‘Turning Chinese Peasants into Modern Citizens: ‘Population Quality’, Demographic Transition, and Primary Schools’, China Quarterly, 177, (March):1-20 – Winner of the Gordon White Prize.
  • Rachel Murphy (2004) ‘Chinese Ethnography of State and Society’, in China Along the Yellow River, by J. Cao, Routledge, 1-15.
    Rachel Murphy (2004) ‘The Impact of Labour Migration on the Well-Being and Agency of Rural Chinese Women’, in On the Move: Women and Rural-Urban Migration in Contemporary China, ed. by A. Gaetano and T. Jacka, Columbia University Press, 227-262.
  • Rachel Murphy (2003) ‘Fertility and Distorted Sex Ratios in Rural China: Culture, State and Policy,’ Population and Development Review, 29 (4) (December): 595-626.
  • Rachel Murphy (2002) How Migrant Labor is Changing Rural China, Cambridge University Press [Published in Chinese translation in 2008 by Zhejiang People’s Publishing House]


  • Rachel Murphy (2008) 'The Impact of Socio-Cultural Norms on Women's Experiences of Migration', SSRC Migration Studies Research Paper, No 17, New York: Social Science Research Council. (pp.23).
  • Rachel Murphy (2006) ‘Media Communications’ and ‘Internal Migration’ in Companion to Development Studies, ed. by D. Clark, Edward Elgar, 238-245 and 289-295.
  • Rachel Murphy (2005) ‘Helping Migration to Improve Livelihoods in China’, in Migration, Development and Poverty Reduction in Asia, ed. by F. Laczko (Geneva: International Organization for Migration), 223-242.


  • ‘What Does ‘Left Behind’ Mean in Rural China? Children’s Perspectives’, Conference on Migration, Social Reproduction and Social Protection, University of East Anglia at London, 2nd -3rd April 2012.
  • ‘Sex Ratio Imbalances and China’s Care for Girls Programme’, Seminar Series, Sociology Department, University of Cambridge, 1st March 2012.

Further Info:

Photograph of Rachel Murphy