Let's get to know Yuting...


Hometown: Shanghai, China

Major/Minor: Double major in Sociology and Political Science; History minor


What inspired you to major in Sociology?

When I was a 11-year-old kid I realized that all blue-collar workers (maintenance, janitors, security etc.) in my apartment building in Shanghai were laid-off workers from a bankrupt state-owned enterprise. Against the background of Shanghai's rapid economic development, this encounter with the end of state socialism at the former socialist heartland challenged my assumptions of economic growth. For the first time I realized that not everyone had benefited from market economy. Then I thought that social sciences would provide me with the theoretical tools and methodological training to understand social change. My freshmen year, I read Max Weber in the introduction to comparative politics taught by Professor Markovits. Then I become interested in political sociology.


What classes have you most enjoyed?

Critical Sociology, Introduction to Social Theory. 


What do you hope to do after graduating from Michigan?

[I hope to be] a historical sociologist. In July, I will go to the University of Chicago for Sociology PhD program.


Have you participated in an internship or research experience?

I did two research projects. The first one was supervised by Professor Markovits; the second one is my thesis (in political science) supervised by Professor Steinmetz. 


How has Sociology helped you to understand pandemics the U.S. is currently facing: COVID-19 and/or systemic racism?

Intersectionality has to be taken seriously. Comparing to seasonal flu, COVID-19 is "other". Historically, political actors tend to highlight foreignness in the classifying of virus (for example, Spanish flu, Ebola virus).  While branding plague after specific places and people can be a classification strategy for promoting fear, it can also deconstruct the collective efforts to end the pandemic. In addition, pandemic's effects are multidimensional. In my point of view, the experience of otherness (for example, "Wuhan Virus", "Chinese virus", gender inequality, and racial discrimination) in the time of the Pandemic does not neatly fall into the categories which have dominated social and human sciences on identity formation--race, ethnicity, nation, sexual preference, gender, and class--an alternative analytical framework needs to be developed for understand this classification struggle.


Do you have advice for prospective Soc majors in this moment?

Try any and everything that intellectually interests you. Also, stay safe.