Universität Wien FIND

150107 SE The Politics of the Chinese Social Credit System (M3) (2019S)

10.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 15 - Ostasienwissenschaften
Continuous assessment of course work

Details

max. 25 participants
Language: English

Lecturers

Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Tuesday 05.03. 14:15 - 15:45 Seminarraum Sinologie 2 UniCampus Hof 2 2F-O1-18
Tuesday 19.03. 14:15 - 15:45 Seminarraum Sinologie 2 UniCampus Hof 2 2F-O1-18
Tuesday 26.03. 14:15 - 15:45 Seminarraum Sinologie 2 UniCampus Hof 2 2F-O1-18
Tuesday 02.04. 14:15 - 15:45 Seminarraum Sinologie 2 UniCampus Hof 2 2F-O1-18
Tuesday 09.04. 14:15 - 15:45 Seminarraum Sinologie 2 UniCampus Hof 2 2F-O1-18
Tuesday 30.04. 14:15 - 15:45 Seminarraum Sinologie 2 UniCampus Hof 2 2F-O1-18
Tuesday 07.05. 14:15 - 15:45 Seminarraum Sinologie 2 UniCampus Hof 2 2F-O1-18
Tuesday 14.05. 14:15 - 15:45 Seminarraum Sinologie 2 UniCampus Hof 2 2F-O1-18
Tuesday 21.05. 14:15 - 15:45 Seminarraum Sinologie 2 UniCampus Hof 2 2F-O1-18
Tuesday 28.05. 14:15 - 15:45 Seminarraum Sinologie 2 UniCampus Hof 2 2F-O1-18
Tuesday 04.06. 14:15 - 15:45 Seminarraum Sinologie 2 UniCampus Hof 2 2F-O1-18
Tuesday 18.06. 14:15 - 15:45 Seminarraum Sinologie 2 UniCampus Hof 2 2F-O1-18
Tuesday 25.06. 14:15 - 15:45 Seminarraum Sinologie 2 UniCampus Hof 2 2F-O1-18

Information

Aims, contents and method of the course

Since the mid-20th century, social engineering—understood as a sweeping and coercive state-led scheme to realize social change towards an ideal—has been discredited in Western academic and policy communities. By the 1980s, the Chinese leadership too turned away from Maoist utopian campaigns and embraced more de-centralized, specific and gradual interventions. In recent years, however, it has regained its appetite for shaping society through comprehensive programs. The most ambitious of these is the Social Credit System (社会信用体系 SCS)—a nationwide scheme that uses digital technology to collect data from commercial, legal and social spheres, integrates this information in a centralized record and incentive system for trustworthy conduct and thereby seeks to steer individual, corporate and official behavior. The SCS is currently being piloted and shall be implemented nationwide in the near future.

This course will review existing research on the system itself and closely related phenomena. It will then embark on an empirical journey to do first-hand research with available evidence from academic, media and policy materials. The language of instruction and discussion is English. Students will learn how to screen, collect and organize research and original evidence on an evolving phenomenon. They will generate theoretically informed research questions in order to develop empirically grounded arguments.

Assessment and permitted materials

Assessment

Participation 10 %
Presentation and session leadership 30 %
Research outline 15 %
Term paper 45 %

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Grading scheme
Points Grade
100-91 1
90 - 76 2
75 - 61 3
60 - 51 4
50 - 0 5

The final grade will be computed according to the relative weight of the subgrades. To pass the course, you have to reach more than 50 points in the final grade, attend the minimum required number of sessions, give a presentation and submit both written assignments.

Submission of materials

All materials for the outline, presentation (handouts or slides) and the term paper must be submitted as pdf, doc, or ppt files through the Moodle platform. The file name should be as follows: last name_assessment type (e.g. steinhardt_ presentation).

For outlines and term papers, please provide a cover page indicating at least the title, your name, the course title, the instructor’s name and the number of words. Further details regarding style, formatting, citation etc. will be provided during the seminar.

Late submissions of presentation materials, outline and term paper lead to a 3-point deduction per working day.

Examination topics

Participation, reading, attendance
Successful learning and class discussion stands and falls with the reading of the literature. Students are strongly encouraged to read at least two of the provided readings (key readings will be announced) and familiarize themselves with further suggested materials. To read an article does not necessarily mean to read every sentence, but to scan the text, highlight critical passages and grasp the main argument.

Attendance is required. One absence per term is allowed, additional absences without a doctor’s note (or equivalent) lead to grade deductions. If you miss more than four sessions without valid documentation, you will fail the class.

Presentation and session leadership
The SCS is an evolving and under-researched topic. Hence, this course strongly depends on students exploring the subject with original research. The latter half of the course will be open to student research. Depending on the number of participants, one or two students will be assigned to one session by late April. Possible topics include, but are not limited to: black and red lists, emerging models in “model cities” 示范城市and “pilot sites” 试点 (in-depth analyses of single or multiple cases), Chinese discourses on the SCS or related issues (data privacy, surveillance, social trust etc.), private Chinese credit scoring systems, the historical origins of the SCS (such as, the dossier 档案 system), the target management system 目标管理责任制for officials, the role of Internet/social media data and machine learning in credit scoring, a comparative country study, etc.

One week prior to the meeting, the responsible session leader(s) has/have to provide the class with two compulsory readings (either research articles or key policy documents/media articles). These readings should be uploaded to Moodle. The session will begin with a 20-30 min presentation by the session leader(s). Presentations should cover one to three research questions and, if possible, a puzzle, key assumptions at the beginning of research, findings, new questions arising from the research (Have your assumptions changed?) and issues to discuss by the group. Students in the MA Sinology program must include a substantial amount of Chinese materials in their research. Presentation materials have to be uploaded to Moodle at the latest one day after the presentation. The presentation will lead to an open discussion in the group, guided by the session leader(s).

Research outline & annotated bibliography
To prepare the term paper, students need to submit a research outline of about 900-1500 words. Students may continue to explore their presentation topic or pick up a new issue. The outline should specify a topic, and outline thoughts on its significance, the research question(s)/a puzzle, an annotated bibliography of at least ten pieces of academic or policy research, or key policy documents, as well as thoughts on the research method. Detailed instruction and feedback will be provided by the course instructor. Students in the MA Sinology program must include a substantial amount of Chinese materials in their research.

Term paper
The term paper will analyze a limited body of original empirical evidence to answer a specific and significant research question related to the course in 4500-5500 words, including bibliography, tables and figures. It should demonstrate the ability to situate a research question in the academic and policy debate, deploy standard qualitative or quantitative social science research methods and develop a defensible empirically grounded argument. Students in the MA Sinology program must include a substantial amount of original Chinese material in their research.

Reading list

Creemers, Rogier. 2018. “China’s Social Credit System: An Evolving Practice of Control.” SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 3175792. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. https://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=3175792.
Engelmann, Severin, Mo Chen, Felix Fischer, Ching-yu Kao, and Jens Grossklags. 2019. “Clear Sanctions, Vague Rewards: How China’s Social Credit System Currently Defines ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Behavior.” In Proceedings of the Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency, 69–78. FAT* ’19. New York, NY, USA: ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/3287560.3287585.
Kostka, Genia. 2018. “China’s Social Credit Systems and Public Opinion: Explaining High Levels of Approval.” SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 3215138. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. https://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=3215138.
Liang, Fan, Vishnupriya Das, Nadiya Kostyuk, and Muzammil M. Hussain. Forthcoming. “Constructing a Data-Driven Society: China’s Social Credit System as a State Surveillance Infrastructure.” Policy & Internet. https://doi.org/10.1002/poi3.183.

Association in the course directory

PR 421/422

Last modified: We 03.07.2019 08:47