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Ming-Cheng Lo


  • Ph.D., Sociology, University of Michigan.
  • M.A., Comparative Literature, University of Michigan.
  • B.A., Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, National Taiwan University.


Ming-Cheng Miriam Lo, professor of sociology at the University of California, Davis, is devoted to supporting underrepresented groups and ensuring that the voices of these groups are included in academic, policy, and public conversations. Having grown up in Taiwan and completed her doctoral training in the United States, Professor Lo is actively engaged in research activities in Asia as well as the English-speaking world, meanwhile pursuing productive conversations across these cultural divides. She is the author of Doctors within Borders: Profession, Ethnicity, and Modernity in Colonial Taiwan (University of California Press, 2002; Japanese edition published in 2014). She has published articles on a variety of topics, including health, culture, immigration, and civil society. Highlights from her current research include:

“Immigrant Patients and Culturally Competent Healthcare”: This project examines how the guidelines of cultural competency are operationalized by front-line healthcare professionals. It also traces how immigrant patients make sense of clinical encounters and develop their own coping mechanisms. This project contributes to understandings of how immigrants succeed or fail in their institutional negotiations, and how "street-level bureaucrats" facilitate or inhibit these efforts. At a theoretical level, this research extends Bourdieu's notion of cultural capital.

“Cultures of Civil Society”: Analyzing political cartoons, this study focuses on how political cultures develop in two marginalized, newly/partially democratized societies: Hong Kong and Taiwan. Beyond reporting empirical findings, this project engages with the theoretical literature on the paths of young, non-Western civil societies.

"Contending Visions for Post-Disaster Reconstruction": This research focuses on how disaster survivors consolidate visions for community rebuilding through interactions – and sometimes contentions – with NGOs and government agencies. The project examines how different types of civic engagement shape the debates and outcomes regarding community reconstruction in the areas afflicted by Typhoon Morakot in Taiwan. It also explores how survivors draw upon local cultural repertoires, while also create new rituals, symbols, or narratives, to make sense of their sufferings and articulate their subjectivities.

The Handbook of Cultural Sociology, a large edited volume with 10 parts and 65 chapters, was brought together by Professors Lo, Grindstaff, and Hall (Routledge 2010). Currently, the co-editors are working on providing the 2nd edition of the Handbook, forthcoming in 2018.

Research Focus

Professor Lo’s research areas include: health and illness experiences, immigration, civic engagement, and culture. An overarching theme that runs through her research areas concerns how marginalized social groups hybridize diverse cultural and social resources to come up with creative responses to challenging social environments. On-going projects include research on how immigrant groups develop coping strategies for inadequate healthcare, how illness experiences transform gender identities among immigrant women, and how natural disaster survivors consolidate visions for community rebuilding.

Selected Publications

Lo, M-C. M. & Nguyen, E. (2018). Caring and carrying the cost: Hispanic nurses’ challenges and strategies for working with co-ethnic patients.” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 4(1): 149–71.

Lo, M-C. M. (2016) Cultural capital, motherhood capital, and low-income immigrant mothers’ institutional negotiations. Sociological Perspectives 59(3): 694-713.

Lo, M-C. M. (2015) Conceptualizing unrecognized cultural currency: Bourdieu and everyday resistance among the dominated. Theory and Society 44 (2): 125-152.

Lo, M-C. M., & Bahar, R. (2013) Resisting the colonization of the lifeworld? Immigrant patients' experiences with co-ethnic healthcare workers. Social Science & Medicine 87: 68-76.

Hall, J. R., Grindstaff, L., & Lo, M-C. M. (Eds.) (2010) Handbook of Cultural Sociology. London: Routledge.

Lo, M-C. M., & Fan, Y. (2010) Hybrid cultural codes in non-Western civil society: Images of women in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Sociological Theory 28 (2): 167-192.

Lo, M-C. M. (2010) Cultural brokerage: Creating linkages between voices of lifeworld and medicine in cross-cultural clinical settings. Health 14 (5): 484-504.

Lo, M-C. M., & Bettinger, C. P. (2009) Civic solidarity in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The China Quarterly 197: 183-203.

Lo, M-C. M., & Stacey, C. L. (2008) Beyond cultural competency: Bourdieu, patients, and clinical encounters. Sociology of Health and Illness 30 (5): 741-755.

Lo, M-C. M., Bettinger, C. P., & Fan, Y. (2006) Deploying weapons of the weak in civil society: Political culture in Hong Kong and Taiwan, Social Justice 32 (2): 77-104.

Lo, M-C. M. (2005) Professions: Prodigal daughter of modernity, pp. 381-406 in Remaking Modernity: Politics, Processes and History in Sociology, Julia Adams, Elisabeth S. Clemens and Ann Shola Orloff (Eds.), Durham: Duke University Press.

Lo, M-C. M., & Bettinger, C. P. (2001) The historical emergence of a familial society in Japan, Theory and Society 30 (2): 237-279.


Professor Lo teaches courses on immigration, social movements, and health and illnesses, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. 


2013-2016 Initiative Grant, Pacific Rim Research Program.

2010-2013 Scholar Grant, Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange.

2006-2008 Researcher Grant, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

2001-2002The Davis Humanities Institute Fellow, UC Davis.

1999 APRU Fellow, Association of Pacific Rim Universities.

1995-1996 Sawyer Research Fellow, The International Institute at U of Michigan.

1995 Certificate of Recognition, Sigma Xi The Scientific Research Society, University of Michigan Chapter.

1992-1993 Barbor Scholarship for Oriental Women, U of Michigan.