Professor Weiguo Zhang specializes in social demography, sociology of families, and social policy. His work primarily focuses on rural area of China, looking into the relationship between national population and economic policies and individual livelihoods. Zhang’s research interests include investigation of social change, particularly the roles of societal institutions and individual behaviour in social change, and how social change affects the nature of people’s lives. Drawing upon empirical research, he examines, on the one hand, how macro state policies, mediated by societal institutions, influence individual behaviour, and on the other hand, how individual behaviour reshapes the characteristics of the society in which they live.
Zhang’s earlier social demographic research was the first of its kind to apply an institutional framework to advance our understanding of the interplay between macro-economic and population policies on the one hand and micro-fertility behaviour on the other in post-reform rural China. Zhang’s recent researches focus on family dynamics including domestic adoptions of children, the welfare of elderly parents, marriage and family dynamics, and women and gender. Zhang’s research endeavors to understand how women, men, and the elderly, within the specific economic and social policy context, utilize the gender and age differentiated social capital and resource control, and negotiate with the socially specified rules and opportunities, which shape and reshape social relations.