Ya-Wen Lei is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University, and is affiliated with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard. She grew up in Taipei, Taiwan. Dr. Lei holds a J.S.D. from Yale Law School and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Michigan. Before she joined Harvard sociology, she was a junior fellow at the Society of Fellows at Harvard University, where she learned from a variety of humanities scholars and scientists. Her interests lie at the intersection of political sociology, law and society, political communication, economic sociology, sociology of work, development, and science and technology.

Dr. Lei’s Ph.D. dissertation won the 2014 American Sociological Association Dissertation Award. Her first book, The Contentious Public Sphere: Law, Media, and Authoritarian Rule in China, has won the 2018 Distinguished Book Award, Sociology of Law Section of the American Sociological Association, and the 2018 Gordon Hirabayashi Human Rights Book Award, Human Rights Section of the American Sociological Association.

Currently, Dr. Lei has been working on projects that investigate the relationship between development models, industrial transformation, technological advancement, and social change in China, including the process and consequence of automation, platform economy, changing perceptions of inequality, and the transnational public sphere of scientific controversy.

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