Peng LU is a Professor and the Director of Department of Sociology for Economy, Sciences, and Technology at Institute of Sociology of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).  He also serves as Executive Dean of Institute of Digital China of University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Director of Research Center for Private Entrepreneurs of CASS.

He earned his Ph.D. degree in sociology at Tsinghua University in 2010, plus a visiting student experience at Yale University from 2007-2008. He worked at New York University Abu Dhabi as a postdoctoral research fellow with Ivan Szelenyi from 2011 to 2012. He has been a visiting scholar in the Institute of Development Research (IDS) in the UK, Sciences Po Bordeaux, and the University of Duisburg.

His researches focused on elite studies, government-business relations, social stratification and mobility, corporate social responsibility and social innovation. In recent years, he has been putting major energy into the studies of digital sociology, platform governance, and technology sociology. In his recent projects on AI & Society, he wants to bring the “science and technology” back into economy sociology, and uses new methods of CSS and GenAI for more empirical studies.

Economy Sociology and Elite Studies

In the area of economy sociology and elite studies, he published two monographs in Chinese, Transformation of Intimate Relationships: The Birth, Rupture, and Repair of Growth Alliances, Looking for Humpback: How Chinese Enterprises Are Socially Innovating, and one textbook Social Stratification Theory. In addition, he translates numerous books and articles including Who Rules AmericaMaking Capitalism without Capitalists, and Social Theory and Postcommunism. He published many papers on top peer-reviewed Chinese journals, and some in English, including British Journal of Sociology, Journal of Chinese Sociology. He has won the “Lu Xueyi Outstanding Achievement Award in Sociology” twice in 2016 and 2023, one of the highest honors in Chinese sociology for outstanding researches.

To study Chinese elite, he co-founds Chinese Super Rich Persons (CSRP) with Xiaoguang Fan from Zhejiang Univ, a data-set collects socio-political info of the visibly richest Chinese private entrepreneurs. The CSRP is now developing into a part for a collective endeavour, the World Elite Database (WED) led by Professor Mike Savage from LSE. He is also the managing director of the renowned Chinese Private Entrepreneur Survey (CPES), a nationwide survey conducted every two years since 1993 (, cooperated with Chinese authorities. (For more info on the team of elite studies, checkCES) He has conducted many projects with top Chinese companies and played active roles in business consultant. In addition, he has also consulted for the China Federation of Industry and Commerce, the State Administration of Market Regulation, Shanghai Municipal Government, and the UNESCO..

Digital Sociology and AI & Society

He started to study platform governance of Chinese tech companies since 2016, benefiting from many previous researches on their founders and executives. He is especially interested in the role of platform companies into public affairs, including AI for good, poverty reduction, sustainable development goals, and corporate social responsibility. In addition to many ties with several giant platform companies, he is now a senior member of council of WeCountry, a program initiated by Tencent to use digital technology to promote rural development. He is also leading a comparative program granted by the Chinese African Institute on digital governance in Africa, cooperated with scholars from the Wits University in South Africa.

He established the Institute of Digital China of University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a hub for teaching, research, policy dialogue, and outreach on the challenges and opportunities presented by digitisation in the public sector, society, and industry in China. He is also the Principal Scientist of the Lab of Social Computing and Digital Sociology of CASS and deputy director of the editorial board of Intelligence Society Studies. He is currently working on a large project on “Technology and Digital Society” , which has received Key Discipline Funding from the CASS. This project focuses on the social impact of digital technology and AI, and develops “digital sociology” with Chinese characteristics. Based on a series of previous academic papers, he is organizing team members to write the first textbook introducing digital sociology in China.

He emphasize that technological innovation and social innovation go hand in hand, and the interdisciplinary development of social science and computing science, and put forward the concept of “so-coder”. His team and Baidu have been jointly organizing a series of artificial intelligence-related academic training and exchange activities since 2020. Based on the course content, the team has published Introduction to Computational Social Science by Tsinghua University in 2023, the first introducory textbook of CSS led by social scientists in China.

International Cooperation

Influenced by his mentor Ivan Szelenyi and working experience in NYU Abu Dhabi, he has an enduring interest in Central Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Russia, and has co-established a research network with colleagues from these regions. He was also in Science Po Bordeaux, Institute of Development Studies in Sussex University, University of Sydney, and University of Duisburg-Essen as visiting scholar. Besides of WED and African project aforementioned, he joined many other international projects and is an active member of International Sociological Association and East Asian Sociological Association.

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