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Sociology and Criminology & Law

Yao Li


Assistant Professor in Sociology and Criminology, Law & Society



Turlington 3231

  Office    Hours

Fall 2020 Virtual Hours:
Tuesday 2:45pm–4:45pm or by appointment






Yao Li is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law at the University of Florida. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Johns Hopkins University. Before coming to UF, She was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and was a lecturer at the University of Kansas. She is the author of Playing by the Informal Rules—Why the Chinese Regime Remains Stable despite Rising Protests (Cambridge 2019; Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics). Her research combines quantitative and qualitative methods to address debates in the fields of social movements, environmental studies, political sociology, and development. She is currently working on a new book project on waste management with a focus on China, Taiwan, and the United States.



Undergraduate Courses

  • SYA4930: Social Movements
  • SYO4530: Social Inequality
  • CJL3038: Law and Society


Areas of Specialization

  • Social Movements
  • Environmental Studies
  • Political Sociology
  • Social Inequality
  • Law and Society
  • Development
  • Social Psychology
  • Chinese Society and Politics



  • Playing by the Informal Rules—Why the Chinese Regime Remains Stable despite Rising Protests. 2019. Cambridge University Press.
    • Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics series
    • Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute series, Columbia University

Reviewed in Mobilization: An International Quarterly, Democratization, The China Quarterly.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • Contentious Politics in China: Causes, Dynamics, and Consequences.” Forthcoming. Brill Research Perspectives in Governance and Public Policy in China (with Manfred Elfström, equal co-authorship).
  • Does Greater Coercive Capacity Increase Overt Repression? Evidence from the Hu-Wen and Xi Administrations.” Forthcoming. Journal of Contemporary China (lead co-author with Manfred Elfström)
  • A Zero-Sum Game? Repression and Protest in China.” 2019. Government and Opposition: An International Journal of Comparative Politics, Vol. 54, No. 2, 309-335 (2017, online first, doi:10.1017/gov.2017.24).
  • Mobility and Volatility: What Is Behind the Rising Income Inequality in the United States.” 2018. Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and Its Applications, Vol. 492, 2345-2352 (with Huixuan Wu,
  • Grapes of Wrath: Twisting Arms to Get Villagers to Cooperate with Agribusiness in China.” 2017. The China Journal, Vol. 77, No. 1, 27-50 (with Qiangqiang Luo and Joel Andreas).
  • Fragmented Authoritarianism and Protest Channels: A Case Study of Resistance to Privatizing a Hospital.” 2013. Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, Vol. 42, No. 2, 195–224.
  • Saving Face: Self-Esteem Maintenance among Laid-off Workers.” 2008. Journal of China Agricultural University, Vol. 25, No. 3 (in Chinese).
    • Reprinted in Wen Fang (ed.), The Transition of Chinese Society, 2013, Renmin University Press.
  • Jewish Emigration and Ethnicity Maintenance in China.” 2006. Journal of Social Psychology, Vol. 65 (in Chinese).

Other Publications

  • Trash Politics: Grassroots Objection and the Incineration Boom in China.” Asia Dialogue. December 13, 2018.