Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Sociology

Content Description

1 online resource (v, 216 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Ronald Jacobs

Committee Members

Richard Lachmann, Guobin Yang


Public health, Medical policy, Environmental policy, Crises, Dried milk industry, Food contamination, Environmental disasters

Subject Categories



My project focuses on China’s environmental health and food safety crises to examine the changing interrelations among the Chinese state, media, civil society organizations and the international society. The debate on the environment-society relationship generates two conflicting theoretical explanations. While political economy theorists emphasize the non-compatible relationship between economic development and environmental improvement, the modernization theorists, especially in the traditions of risk society/reflexive modernity and of ecological modernization, contend that risks drive the changes of state-media-civil society relationship in a positive way towards a more compatible environment-society relationship. By investigating multiple cases, including the 2005 Songhua River Chemical Spill, the 2008 Tainted Baby Formula Scandal, the Beijing Olympics’ controversies over China’s air quality, and the Smog Crises since 2011, I argue that the perceptions of environmental risks and the accompanying responses to them are contingent upon and determined by the cultural and political contexts of the particular environmental events. My argument is developed based upon narrative, comparative, and historical analyses that draw on a variety of text data sources, including Chinese and global media outlets, NGOs’ publications, scientific and historical archives, and secondary analysis of the Chinese environmental policies and regulations.

Included in

Sociology Commons