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Dr Jenny Chan
PolyU Scholars Hub

Dr Jenny CHAN

Associate Professor


Dr Jenny Chan is Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Applied Social Sciences. Her research and teaching focus on labor and state-society relations of China’s transformation. She began her academic career at the University of Oxford where she was a lecturer of sociology at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies and a Junior Research Fellow at Kellogg College.

Dr Chan’s book, Dying for an iPhone: Apple, Foxconn, and the Lives of China’s Workers, is co-authored with Mark Selden and Pun Ngai (2020) and is translated into Korean (2021). The book contributes to promoting global public sociology by fostering cooperation between academics and civil society to explain the buyer-supplier power dynamic in transnational manufacturing. Dying for an iPhone was named a CHOICE recommended title in Social and Behavioral Sciences in January 2022 and featured in a SHARPS international event on May Day 2022.

Dr Chan is currently working on two projects. From the level of global production to local logistics, she has researched parcel delivery labor in China’s digital economy. By comparing two types of couriers—delivery station-based teams and platform-mediated, crowd-sourced workers—the findings will explicate the distinctive mechanisms of corporate control and the responses of both local and rural migrant couriers, legal reforms, and adaptive governance. Her second project examines national development strategies through the lens of skill acquisition, student internship, and apprenticeship. At a time of slowing economic growth, a shrinking pool of workers and an ageing population, vocational school graduates and apprentices could play a significant role in China’s industrial and technological upgrading if they were to receive appropriate training leading to better jobs.

With funding support from the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation and the East and Inner Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies, the Great Britain-China Centre, and the John Fell Oxford University Press Research Fund, among others, Dr Chan has published in sociology and China studies journals, including Critical Sociology, Current Sociology, Human Relations, Globalizations, The South Atlantic Quarterly, Modern China, Rural China, The China Review, Made in China Journal, Global Labour Journal, Journal of Labor and Society, New Labor Forum, New Politics, Critical Asian Studies, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Asian Studies, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Sociologias, Dissent, and New Technology, Work and Employment.

Dr Chan serves as an elected Vice President of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee on Labour Movements (2018-2023). She has also served on editorial and advisory boards: Work, Employment and Society (2022 to present), Journal of Management History (2021 to present), Labor History (2020 to present), Rural China (2019 to present), Global Labour Journal (2015 to present), and The Asia-Pacific Journal (2015 to present). She received the Best Teaching Award in 2018 and was honored as Leader of Professional Society/Association at International Level in 2021. Her analyses of the Chinese political economy have been featured in The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, The Guardian, The Economist, BBC News, and The South China Morning Post.


Curriculum Vitae

Education and Academic Qualifications

  • PhD in Sociology and China Studies, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • MPhil in Sociology (Distinction), The University of Hong Kong 
  • BSSc in Sociology (Hons), The Chinese University of Hong Kong 
  • Certificate in English, The Oxford English Centre, Oxford, the United Kingdom

Research Interests

  • Labor
  • The state
  • Globalization
  • Digital capitalism
  • Sociology
  • China

Grants (selected)

2023-2026 Building Responsible Technology: Global Digital Transformations, Tech Workers’ Agency and the Making of Artificial Intelligence [BEHIND AI]; Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)—Postdoctoral Fellowships, Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON), European Commission (Dr Sébastien Antoine, the Principal Investigator)

2022-2023 Buy with 1-click: New Labor Relations in China’s Parcel Delivery Sector; The Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation and the East and Inner Asia Council (formerly the China and Inner Asia Council) of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) (Dr Jenny Chan, the Principal Investigator) 

2019-2023 China’s Rise and the New Social Norms in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) [ASEAN-CHINA-NORMS]; International Research Networks (IRN), Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (INSHS), The French National Centre for Scientific Research (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CNRS) (Dr Elsa Lafaye de Micheaux, the Principal Investigator) 

2018-2021 Internships, Informal Labor and Vocational Skills Training in China; Early Career Scheme (ECS), Research Grants Council (RGC) of Hong Kong (Dr Jenny Chan, the Principal Investigator)

2015-2016 Learning for Jobs: Internship, Vocational Education, and the Law in China; The John Fell Oxford University Press (OUP) Research Fund (Dr Jenny Chan, the Principal Investigator)


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