Yan Zhang


dphil yan zhang

Yan Zhang

DPhil candidate, Department of Sociology



I am a DPhil candidate at the Department of Sociology at the University of Oxford. My research focuses on fatherhood and children's wellbeing from a gender perspective in the context of China's Great Migration and I use a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods. I hold a Master of Social Work from Columbia University and an MSc in Social Research Methods from the University of Warwick. Before my current studies, I worked at UNICEF as a Child Protection Officer. 

DPhil topic

'The invisible costs of China’s Great Migration: Fatherhood and the wellbeing of children'

My thesis focuses on the phenomenon of China’s Great Migration and answers the most pressing and nascently explored questions intertwined in the process, including the contextual mechanisms of fatherhood, the impact of heterogeneous gender norms and the well-being of children who are involved in the migration process. Due to the rural-urban segregation, many children of migrant workers are forced to stay behind in their home villages and live away from one or both of their parents for an extended period. The so-called 'left-behind' children often grow up without adequate parental company and supervision. While issues associated with labour migration have received increasing levels of academic attention in the sociological literature, the discourse is heavily influenced by the traditional gender norms that mainly focus on fathers’ financial contributions, with many studies highlighting the negative outcomes associated with migration of mothers, rather than fathers, and its impact on children’s health as well as academic and psychological indicators. Investigation of fathers’ unique contribution to children’s healthy developmental outcomes from a gender perspective remains scarce. Methodologically, this thesis employs a tailor-made mixed strategy, which uses primarily quantitative methodologies, supplemented by targeted qualitative interviews.