Prof. Chiang was motivated to study sociology from an early age – her initial motivation to study sociology was sparked by the writings of Émile Durkheim, although her later theoretical approach is more strongly influenced by the concepts of Bordieau, such as cultural reproduction and social reproduction. The most important lesson that Bourdieu taught her is to “…observe the world with eyes wide open to find its hidden message.” She came to sociology via studying anthropology as her major as an undergraduate at NTU, where her specialty was in cultural anthropology. After graduating from NTU, she signed up as an exchange student at the University of Pennsylvania in the US before pursuing her MA at the University of Chicago and then her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.
When asked if there were noticeable differences between studying in the US and in Taiwan, she replied that they are greatly different. Taiwanese students tend to be relatively shy compared to those in the United states. The teaching styles differ, with a more discursive style in the US, but she was keen to stress that this isn’t to say that students in Taiwan are less intelligent than that of Western students. They are equally intelligent, but each have their different learning styles. It was whilst studying abroad that she realized her anthropological foundations from NTU could actually be applied to her future studies in sociology.
Prof. Chiang is currently conducting some very exciting research on the cultural capital in sociology of education, using the research methods of anthropology to approach studies in culture. She’s investigating elite education in China, focusing on elite students’ distinction within high schools. Her results would appear to challenge the assumptions of Bordieau. “I look at a very homogenous group of elite students, but because of their differences in test scores, they have a different status in school. And status within the system is completely based on the factors of ; their test scores. Nothing else matters: not even their cultural capital.”
If this has piqued your interest, and you are interested in taking one of Prof. Chiang’s courses, she will be teaching (In English) Introduction of Sociology for undergraduates, and Sociology of Education for graduate students in the fall semester 2018. All you need to do is “…bring an open-mind and be prepared to broaden your horizons…”