Sarah Swider

Sarah Swider

Associate Professor
Affiliated Faculty Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor


313-577-2735 (fax)

2247 FAB

Sarah Swider



Research interest(s)/area of expertise

Precarious and Informal Work
Labor and Labor Movements
Sociology of Development
Migration and social inequality
Gender, labor and social movements
China and Asian Studies



Ph.D. Sociology (September, 2008) University of Wisconsin-Madison MA Sociology (May, 2004) University of Wisconsin-Madison MS Industrial Labor Relations (August, 2000) Cornell University BA (with distinction) Political Science (May, 1994) Saint Michael’s College CERTIFICATES: Beijing Language and Culture Institute, Intermediate and Advanced Language Training, Beijing, China. Summer/Fall 2004. Hopkins-Nanjing Center, Chinese American Center, Chinese Language Study Summer Immersion Program, Nanjing, China. Summer 2002

Awards and grants

Swider, S. and Tong Xin. “Informal Construction and Domestic Work: Collaborative Research on Institutional Influences in Job Quality.” Subcontract for research in China $19,500, Ford Foundation, January 2015-June 2017.

Swider, S. and Nicholas Perry. “Detroit’s Informal Worker Initiative: Moving from Detriment to Advantage.” Student Urban Research Experiences (SURE) Grant $2,000, Wayne State Urban Studies Group, 2014-5.

“Building China and Re-Constructing Asia: migration, citizenship and development.” Humanities Center Fellowship, Wayne State University, $4,505.00, Summer 2012.

“Shaping the Informal Labor Market in China: Understanding State-Market relations.” Junior Faculty Grant in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Wayne State University, $48,148, 2010-2011.

“Labor market and employment variation among migrants in different Chinese cities.” University Research Grant Program, Wayne State University, $10,000, Summer 2010.

Working Group on Contemporary China, (with seven colleagues), Wayne State University, 2010-11, $8,000.

Selected publications

2015. “Building China: The Rise of Informal Work and the New Precariat,” Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY
             Winner of 2016 Book Award, Sociology of Development Section, American Sociological Association.
             Honorable Mention for 2016 Book Award, Labor and Labor Movements Section, American Sociological Association.

Forthcoming, January 2017. (with co-author Lianqing Peng). “Migration and Regional Inequality: Changing Characteristics of China’s Economic Inequality.” Eurasian Geography and Economics.

Forthcoming, January 2017. “Informal and precarious work, the precariat and China.” Rural China.

2016. (co-authors Hui Wang, Xiao Chen and Pengyu Zhu) “Land Expropriation in China: An Examination of Negotiations and Compensation,” Urban Geography, pp. 1-19.

2015. 纸永久暂时性的中国建筑行业 (Permanent Temporariness in the Chinese Construction Industry), Labor Sociology Review (劳动社会学评论) July vol. 1.

2014. “Building China: Migrants in Precarious Work in China’s Construction Industry,” in Work, Employment, and Society. Published online before print August 4, 2014, doi: 10.1177/0950017014526631.
                   Awarded the 2016 Work, Employment and Society (WES) SAGE Prize for Innovation and/or Excellence

2014. “Reshaping China’s Urban Citizenship: Street Vendors, Chengguan and Struggles over the Right to the City,” Critical Sociology. Published online before print April 29, 2014, doi: 10.1177/0896920514529676.

Currently teaching


Social Inequality (Spring 2021)
Social Theory (Winter 2022)
Understanding Human Society ( Spring 2021, Winter 2022)


Courses taught


Introduction to Sociology
Basic Sociological Theory
Social Inequality (In-class and online)
Learning and Service in China
Women in Global Society


Urban Qualitative Methods
Advanced Qualitative Methods
Sociology of Urban and Labor Studies