Natalie Young

Dissertation Title: 

Changing the Rules of the Game: Educational Strategies of Socioeconomically Advantaged Families in Post-Reform China

Faculty Advisors: 

Emily Hannum (Chair), Hyunjoon Park, Annette Lareau, Xinyin Chen (Penn GSE)

Research Interests: 

Contemporary Chinese society, social stratification, education, family, demography, international development, nationalism and national identity, cosmopolitanism, social, symbolic and spatial boundary construction


Natalie A.E. Young is a Ph.D. candidate within the Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.  After completing a B.A. at Dartmouth College in 2010, she spent three years in China.  Working at an international school in Beijing, she developed an interest in international education as well as educational inequality in China.

Natalie’s master’s thesis focused on international schools in China, arguing that rather than an “elite” educational trajectory pursued by elite families, a new form of international school has emerged in China that offers a pathway to obtain baseline academic credentials in the absence of opportunities for progress in the highly competitive Chinese educational system.  This alternative route is particularly attractive to families that, despite high levels of economic capital, occupy precarious social positions in contemporary Chinese society, posing barriers to the transmission of advantage to their children.

Natalie’s other research, which employs both quantitative and qualitative methods, continues to explore issues of socioeconomic inequality among children and adolescents in China, with an emphasis on education as well as the advantages of children from affluent families.  Much of the previous literature in China has focused on rural poverty and disadvantage, with less attention to the implications of an emerging affluent class for childhood and educational inequality in China.  Natalie’s dissertation draws on the first nationally representative survey of junior high school students in China to investigate the educational strategies of socioeconomically advantaged families.  Finally, as a result of her time working at an international school in China, she continues to be interested in the topic of cosmopolitanism and nationalism among Chinese youth.

Teaching Experience

2016 Spring Sample Survey Methods (Instructor)

2015 Fall Quantitative Methods in Sociology I (Teaching Assistant; Graduate-level course)

2015 Spring Introduction to Sociology (Teaching Assistant; Undergraduate-level course)

2011-2013 B.C. (British Columbia) Curriculum Teacher at an International High School in China

Recent Publications

Young, Natalie A.E. and Emily C. Hannum. Forthcoming. "Childhood Inequality in China." The China Quarterly.

Young, Natalie A.E. 2017. “Departing from the Beaten Path: International Schools in China as Response to Discrimination and Academic Failure in the Chinese Educational System.” Comparative Education 54(2): 159-180.

Young, Natalie A.E. and Lourdes Gutiérrez Nájera. 2017. “Racemaking in New Orleans: Racial Boundary Construction Among Ideologically Diverse College Students.” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 24(3): 332-350.

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