My research analyzes how transnational institutions evolve, and how such evolution challenge or sustain existing forms of domination and resistance. Across a range of issues such as health, advocacy, development, and sexualities, I examine the emergence of technocratic governance as an institutional model and its impact on the actorhood of organizations and individuals.

The Paradox of Global Health and Authoritarian Rule: An Conflict-Centered Institutional Approach

The development of transnational institutions is arguably one of the most significant organizational phenomena of the 20th century. Yet little is known about how their effects enter and unfold in a variety of contexts, especially authoritarian countries. This project takes on this issue by focusing on the process through which transnational AIDS institutions have shaped institution-building in disease control and prevention in China. It seeks to understand how this process was driven by the conflict between international organizations, the Chinese state, and local community organizations over legitimacy and authority in governing AIDS, which, in turn, changed those organizations’ identities and interests as well as the ways in which they pursued their interests.

My research in this area is motivated by a commitment to bridge the gap between organizational studies and institutional theory, on the one hand, and comparative politics and international relations, on the other. It asks questions such as: Under what conditions do transnational heath institutions matter? How do governmental organizations respond to transnational challenges? How do transnational health institutions shape domestic politics? And how do external interventions succeed or fail in achieving their intended policy and political outcomes?

Book in Progress:

Side Effects: The Transnational Doing and Undoing of AIDS Politics in China (Under contract, Oxford University Press).

Articles Submitted:

“The Contradictory Impact of Transnational AIDS Institutions on State Repression in China, 1989-2013.” American Journal of Sociology 124, no. 2 (September 2018): 309-366. (Abstract)

“When Foreign Models Meet Authoritarian Rule: Divergent Effects of Transnational Engagement on the Chinese AIDS Movement.” Mobilization: An International Journal (Review and Revise)

Chronic Diseases and Long-term Medical Care

As a collaboration between American and Chinese scholars from sociology, law, and social work, this project examines how national policy on health care affects the ways in which local communities are influenced by and respond to the challenge of chronic diseases in China. We place particular emphasis on the usage of disease, illness, and sickness in managing interventions and treatment for older people in a post-socialist context.

Lydia Li, Yan Long, Elizabeth Essex, Yujie Sui, and Lingzui Gao. “Elderly Chinese and Their Family Caregivers’ Perceptions of Good Care: A Qualitative Study in Shandong, China.” Journal of Gerontological Social Work 55 (7): 609-25. (Article)

Lydia Li, Elizabeth Essex, and Yan Long. “Quality of Life as Perceived by Older Persons with Chronic Illness in Rural and Urban Shandong, China.”Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology 29, no. 4 (October 2014): 417-28. (Article)

Yan Long and Lydia Li. “’How Would We Deserve Better?’ Rural-Urban Dichotomy in Health-Seeking for the Chronically Ill Elderly in China.” Qualitative Health Research 7 (July 2015): 1-16. (Article)

Civic Life of Global Cities

This is a comparative cross-city research to learn about the local experiences of global trends influencing the nonprofit sector, such as social impact measurement and organizational transparency, and to learn about the consequences of civic associational life for the vitality of urban areas. (Read More)

Archiving Chinese NGOs

The organizational form of NGOs was imported to China in the 1995. Launched in the year leading up to the 20th Anniversary of Chinese NGOs, this project aims to record this history by bringing together longitudinal data for research and teaching. Specifically, it collects, preserves, and provides open access—both analog and digital—to the documentary output of Chinese NGOs. The goal is to give voice, in particular, to grassroots NGOs overlooked by institutional archives, and to build a unique resource of important but largely underutilized organizational data. This task is particularly urgent in China as the government has drastically tightened its political control of such organizations, leaving NGOs themselves with little capacity to preserve their records. (Read More)