placeholder image

DR Anthony Spires


  • (Civil Society, Philanthropy, NGOs, Political Sociology)



  • I'm a sociologist at The University of Melbourne's Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies. Before coming to Melbourne, I was an Associate Professor in the Sociology Department at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). I served as the inaugural Director of the Centre for Social Innovation Studies at CUHK and am affiliated as a research fellow with the School of Philanthropy at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China.

    My research on China encompasses political sociology, civil society, globalisation, organisational development, and philanthropy. I study Chinese and outside organisations working on environmental issues, labor rights, HIV-AIDS, education, and other concerns that have arisen in the context of rapid urbanisation and fundamental policy changes since the early 1980s. Most recently, I have conducted interviews and numerous focus groups with 50+ grassroots NGOs and dozens of international NGOs about China's newly introduced Charity Law and its new INGO Law. Results from this research were presented as feedback for policymakers and will be incorporated soon into more formal academic papers.

    One of my latest articles is "Advocacy in an Authoritarian State: How Grassroots Environmental NGOs Influence Local Governments in China" (published in The China Journal and co-authored with Jingyun Dai). ‚ÄčAn article on youth volunteering will also appear soon in China Information. Earlier work about foreign influences on Chinese civil society, Chinese grassroots NGOs, Chinese philanthropy, and relations between NGOs and the Chinese state have appeared in The China Quarterly, The China Journal, The American Journal of Sociology, and The Journal of Civil Society..

    I received my undergraduate degree in Asian Studies at Occidental College, and during my studies there I spent a year at Nanjing University and Beijing University as an exchange student. After working in Taiwan in the 1990s, I returned to the US to study at   


Selected publications


Education and training

  • PhD, Yale University 2007



Available for supervision

  • Y