About Me


I am a PhD candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. My research interests focus on higher education, student choices, and social mobility. In particular, I examine how students position themselves after higher education expansion to secure class advantages, and how their position-taking are driven by fears of downward mobility and by desires of upward mobility.

My research focuses on cultural reproduction in higher education. By investigating the role of time in cultural reproduction, I examine how family, teacher, and students’ adapt to institutional changes and control disruptions in intergenerational transmissions. I situate this question in Taiwan, one of the East Asian countries, to observe how inequality is perpetuated in another institutional context, where scores, weighting scales, and ranks are key determinants of college entry. 

Before coming to Madison, I spent five years doing school ethnography in an alternative school in Taiwan. I investigate how the young utilize their power through self-governed institutions. Data collected in the student court and the student council were explored to uncover the dynamics between regulation and freedom within the school. I turned the story into my first book, Let The Timber Creek: An Alternative School’s Utopia for Coming Generations, which was named one of the ten most influential books of 2016 by China Times.

Besides being a Ph.D. student and an author, I have also worked in the Taiwanese Congress as an educational specialist. In 2016, I was selected as a Fulbright scholar to start my research in the United States. 

You can view CV_MARCH2021_RF here and contact me via mikki.liu@wisc.edu.