China's prominence is growing on the international stage from joining the World Trade Organization to hosting the Olympic Games in 2008. Yet a myriad of representations of China as an impoverished developing country, a socialist state with an authoritarian government, and the next superpower circulates in the global imaginary. Set against this backdrop of discordant imaginaries, this course will examine the political, economic, social and cultural transformations from the start of China's economic reform (late 1970s) to today. China's contemporary global status will be understood through the everyday "life and work" of Chinese citizens by exploring the issues of urbanization, migration and labor, family life, gender and sexuality, the real estate market that affects every Chinese's life, and the marginalized social groups. Class materials will be drawn from academic writings in several disciplines such as anthropology, cultural studies, economics, geography, history and political science, as well as journalistic articles, films, documentaries, images, and personal narratives. The objective of this course is to gain an understanding of the complex history and social changes in contemporary China beyond the simplified stereotypical representations. Therefore, this is a course that neither glorifies or demonizes China, rather it examines in a rigorously academic setting how the last thirty years of social changes since the "reform and opening" (gaige kaifang) have had a profound impact on the lives of ordinary Chinese people and its implications for the world.