Research

Yang Hu’s research focuses on (changing) family, gender and sexual relations in a global world. His research contributes to advancing family justice, gender and social equalities, and knowledge on how macro socio-economic, political and institutional developments and cultural changes (re)configure everyday family and intimate lives. Yang’s research follows three inter-related lines:

[1] Transnational families in a global world

The first strand of Yang’s research focuses on family relations in a transnational and global world, which sits at the intersection of family, gender, race/ethnicity, nationality, and migration. Yang’s first book, Chinese-British Intermarriage, examines how men and women negotiate, (re)construct and make sense of their intersecting gender and ethnic identities in Chinese-British inter-ethnic families in the UK. The book was nominated for the 2017 British Sociological Association Philip Abrams Prize. Funded by The Sociological Review Foundation, Yang has organised the 2017 Sociological Review Symposium on ‘Transnational Family Justice in Migration Crises’, with the aim to advance debates on issues pertaining to family justice in a transnational social space. Yang is currently working on the research outputs from this event. Also, as student mobility constitutes one of the major channels for the formation of transnational intimate and family relations, Yang has co-authored a study examining the international mobility of Chinese students.

[2] (Changing) family, gender and sexual relations and values in China and Europe

The second strand of Yang’s research focuses on the region-specific dynamics pertaining to family, gender and sexuality in China and Europe, respectively. Family values are the building blocks of the Chinese society, Yang (with J. Scott) has examined family and gender values in post-reform China, and how China’s phenomenal internal migration influences such values. Relatedly, Yang’s research on sex ideology in China examined, for the first time, the country’s considerable inter-province variations in sexual attitudes. Addressing the reproduction of domestic gender inequalities, Yang has examined how boys and girls learn to do housework from their parents in rural and urban China as well as in families of distinct structures. Addressing unequal and ‘stalled’ marital mobility, Yang’s research on ‘marriage of matching doors’ is the first nationally representative study that assesses how parental traits determine ‘who marries whom’ in China. As housing is a key dimension of ‘family-making’ in China, Yang (with R. Coulter) has examined the differentiated mental health consequences of crowded dwelling across China’s socioeconomic gradients. With societal changes, people embrace new ways of practising family and intimate relationships. Yang (with R. Coulter) has conducted the first nationally representative decomposition of living apart together relationships in Britain. At Lancaster, Yang co-founded and co-convenes (with J. Fledderjohann) the LAARG (Lancaster Asia Area Research Group).

[3] Methodological developments in the study of family relations

Robust empirical research is not possible without rigorous and innovative research methodologies. Yang uses an eclectic range of both quantitative (e.g., survey design, statistical modelling, and data mining) and qualitative (e.g., ethnography, in-depth interview, and focus group) methods in his research. He is keen to combine the strengths of both quantitative and qualitative approaches in mixed methods research design. Yang co-led a British Academy funded project exploring the use of ‘big data analytics’ in understanding the internationalisation of higher education. He is also experienced in survey design, and is currently leading the development of the first nationally representative survey of parents in the UK family law system as part of the Nuffield-funded project on fathers in care proceedings.