PhD student Anson Au elected a Full Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland

PhD student Anson Au was nominated and elected as a Full Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Founded in 1823, the Royal Asiatic Society recognizes distinguished scholars in the fields of history, languages, cultures and religions of Asia. Fellows of the Royal Asiatic Society gain access to the society’s resources and facilities such as their library of books, journals, manuscripts, paintings, photographs, and archives on a variety of subjects concerning Asia. They are also offered opportunities to meet fellow Asian Studies scholars, attend lectures and cultural events, and receive the triannual Royal Asiatic Society Journal.

Read more about the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland on their website here.

Anson Au is enrolled in his fourth year in the Ph.D. at the Department of Sociology. Anson was recently awarded with a 2020 SSHRC Doctoral Scholarship for his dissertation research.  Anson earned a M.Sc. in Social Research Methodology at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he was also a research officer in social policy, and a B.A. in Sociology and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Toronto. He has previously held visiting fellowships and professorships at the University of Malaya in Malaysia, National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan, Seoul National University and Yonsei University in South Korea, the Harbin Institute of Technology in China, among others.

Anson’s dissertation examines the social order instituted in Chinese guanxi networks on social networking sites through new networking behaviors and network structures. With a regional focus on East Asia, his research more broadly examines social and economic networks, professions and organizations, social scientific research methodology, and social theory.

Anson’s current work examines global flows of capital and knowledge among and to firms in legal and financial markets in Hong Kong, as well as the culture and patterns of digital social networking site use in China.

His latest publications include:

Liu, Sida, and Anson Au. 2020. “The Gateway to Global China: Hong Kong and the Future of Chinese Law Firms.” Wisconsin International Law Journal 39(2): 308-349.

Au, Anson. 2020. “Japanese Sociology in a Global Network: Internationalization, Disciplinary Development, and Minority Integration in the Road Ahead.” International Journal of Japanese Sociology. Published Online Ahead of Print.

Au, Anson. 2020. “Guanxi 2.0: The Exchange of Likes in Social Networking Sites.” Information, Communication, & Society (Online First): 1-16.

Au, Anson. 2020. “Reconceptualizing the Generation in a Digital(izing) Modernity: Digitalization, Social Networking Sites, and the Flattening of Generations.” Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 50(2): 163-183.

Au, Anson. 2020. “Feminist Methods in a “Post-Truth” Political Climate: Objectives, Strategies, and Divisions.” Sociological Spectrum 40(2): 99-115.

PhD student Anson Au recently published, “How US Fed monetary policy is putting Hong Kong’s economy at risk”

PhD student Anson Au recently published an op-ed on South China Morning Post titled “How US Fed monetary policy is putting Hong Kong’s economy at risk”. In this article, Anson analyzes the latest developments in the U.S. Federal Reserve policy and the three threats it poses to Hong Kong’s economy. These threats include: (1) the depreciation of the Hong Kong dollar, (2) inflation contagion, and (3) the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s inability to decide its own monetary policy. Anson provides two sets of strategies to ameliorate these risks.

Anson is currently a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Toronto and a Doctoral Fellow at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. His research seeks to understand how behaviours are patterned in professions, organizations, and social networks. He has a regional focus on East Asia.

We include a short excerpt of the article. You can read the full article here.

The coronavirus pandemic dealt a severe blow to the global economy last year after it took a battering in 2019. As a result, central banks around the world have released rounds of cheap money into the market to support recovery – most of all in the United States.

Pundits have focused on the US and observed the beneficial effects of cheap money, but they have largely overlooked how this will affect Hong Kong. In fact, there are three significant risks from US monetary policy for the city, given Hong Kong’s dollar peg.


Sociology students win SSHRC Doctoral Scholarships for their research 2020

This year, five of our PhD students received funding from SSHRC. This funding will provide them with support for one to four years. Although all students in the University of Toronto graduate programs have a guaranteed funding package, receiving a SSHRC fellowship provides additional funding and allows them reduce the number of hours devoted to teaching and research assistantships so that they can focus on their dissertation research. All of our PhD students apply for external funding and receive training in developing proposals.

2020 SSHRC Doctoral Scholarship Recipients


Anson Au
Social Structural Transformations in Markets of Human Goods: An Economic Sociological Study of Cosmetic Surgery Consumption in South Korea
Eugene Dim
Political Institutions and the Gender Gaps in Political Participation in Africa
Soli Dubash
The Intergenerational Transmission of Mastery Beliefs Between Mother and Child
Kayla Preston
Right-wing extremist deradicalization: steps toward rethinking racial identity for those who have left extremist groups in a North American deradicalization program
Jillian Sunderland
Extremist Men: An Analysis of Masculinities in the White Supremacist Movements

Recipients from previous years among our current students

Amny Athamny, Phil Badawy, Tyler Bateman, James Braun, Milos Brocic, Amanda Couton-Couture, Meghan Dawe, Miranda Doff, Marie-Lise Drappon-Bisson, Athena Engman, Melissa Godbout,  Cinthya Guzman, James Jeong, Timothy Kang, Hammand Khan,  Patricia Louie, Gabe Menard, Andreea Mogoanu, Jean-Francois Nault, Andrew Nevin, Jaime Nikolaou, Merin Oleschuk, Laila Omar, Sebastien Parker, Shawn Perron, Taylor Price, Paul Pritchard, Kate Rozad, Kerri Scheer, Rachel Schumann, Ioana Sendroiu, Jason Settels, Sarah Shah, Anna Slavina, Yukiko Tanaka, Samia Tecle, S.W. Underwood, Laura Upenieks, Anelyse Weiler, Lawrence Williams and Dana Wray.

Ph.D. Candidate Anson Au discusses Hong Kong’s economy and the recent protests in the South China Morning

Ph.D. Candidate Anson Au recently wrote an Opinion piece for South China Morning, entitled, “Why Hong Kong’s economy is more than capable of weathering the recent protest headwinds.” South China Morning is a Hong Kong English-language newspaper founded in 1903. In the article, Au uses economic data and data from his research with Professor Sida Liu to show that although the protests are harmful to civil society, the extent of economic damage that has been inflicted is an exaggeration.

Anson Au is a Ph.D. student in the Sociology Department at the University of Toronto. He is also currently a visiting professor in the School of Humanities, Social Science, and Law at Harbin Institute of Technology.

We have posted an excerpt of the article below. The full article can be read here. 

The protests that have gripped Hong Kong for over seven months have been credited with taking a heavy toll on the economy. The impact on the tourism sectorhas received particular attention – in October, for example, the number of visitors from the mainland dropped 46.9 per cent compared to the previous month. These stark figures are compounded by anecdotal accounts of students, academics, businesses and professionalsconsidering leaving Hong Kong. Hong Kong entered a technical recession in October, with government officials and other commentators warning – some with resignation, others with delight – of darker economic times to come.

Although the damage the protests have done to the fabric of our civil society is clear, the extent of the economic damage has been exaggerated. Hong Kong’s economy is far more resilient than we have assumed and will certainly rebound in the long term. Data from the December 2019 report on the Hong Kong economy by the Census and Statistics Department and my own research with Professor Sida Liu at the University of Toronto on Chinese and foreign law firm collaborations in the Hong Kong legal sector paint a brighter picture…

Read the rest of the article here.

Congratulations to Anson Au for their honourable mention for the Best Paper Award in the “Sociological Quarterly”

Congratulations to Anson Au for the honourable mention he received for the Best Paper Award in the Sociological Quarterly. His paper, entitled, “Reconceptualizing Social Movements and Power: Towards a Social Ecological Approach”, is a study that attempts to move the study of social movements towards a new social ecological approach.

Anson Au is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto. His research interests include sociological methodology, culture, politics and theory.

We have provided a citation as well as the abstract below. The full text is available here. 

Anson Au (2017) Reconceptualizing Social Movements and Power: Towards a Social Ecological Approach, The Sociological Quarterly, 58:3, 519-545, DOI: 10.1080/00380253.2017.1331714

Existing social movement theories subsume protests into abstract conceptualizations of society, and current ethnographic studies of protests overburden description. Through a case study of London protests, this article transcends these limitations by articulating a social ecological approach consisting of critical ethnography and autoethnography that unearth the organizational strategies and symbolic representations exchanged among police, protesters, and third-party observers, while mapping the physical and symbolic characteristics of space bearing on these interactions. This approach points to a conceptualization of power at work as transient, typological structures: (a) rooted in collective agency; (b) both mediating and mediated by symbolic representations; (c) whose sensibilities are determined by symbolic interpretations; and (d) thrown into binary opposition between protester power and police power, who mutually represent meanings to resist and be resisted by.

PhD Student Anson Au receives Mitacs Globalink Research Award for study in South Korea

Thanks to a MITACS Globalink Research Award, Anson Au has been spending the summer of 2018 in South Korea conducting research into attitudes towards plastic surgery. Designed to encourage international collaboration, the MITACS Globalink Research Award provides funding for students in Canada to conduct 12–24-week research projects at universities overseas. Anson used his award to travel to Korea to work under the supervision of Professor Yoosik Youm at Yonsei University.

The resources at Mitacs Globalink allowed Anson to conduct novel research on plastic surgery in South Korea, a publicly significant, but broadly understudied, phenomenon in one of the most advanced countries in East Asia. Plastic surgery has grown extensively around the globe, particularly in South Korea, where more surgeries occur per capita than any other country in the world. At the same time, modern plastic surgery practices have expanded their reach to include more ways of modifying body parts and colonizing new parts hitherto immutable. Anson’s research seeks to understand the cultural and institutional forces that dictate standards of good taste in designing and deciding on plastic surgery modifications; how the interpretive relations between the body, appearance, and persona within the positionality of the self are altered by growing trends in plastic surgery; how plastic surgery renders individuals commensurable, if at all; and how have other domains of social life been altered by the growing popularity, reach, and commonness of plastic surgery.

Anson used funds from the Mitacs award to travel to Korea and conduct interviews with practitioners and consumers to learn about the ways in which they understand plastic surgery.