My major research interest is Chinese society and the changes it has undergone from the 17th century to the present. I have carried out fieldwork and other research in Taiwan and in northern, eastern, and western mainland China. One field research focus has been on the family, and I have been concerned to determine variations and uniformities in traditional family organization and in the patterns of change during modern times. My most recent work is on the historical anthropology of the community in south Taiwan where I carried out earlier research. The present project, using various kinds of documentary and archival sources, intends to describe and analyze in full anthropological detail that community as it was during late imperial times, immediately prior to the arrival of the Japanese and the major changes in society and economy that this occupation entailed. Other major research interests in include Chinese kinship; popular religion; community organization; economic culture; the interconnections between local society and state organization and ideology; the cultural foundations of modern Chinese nationalism: social stratification.
1976. House United, House Divided: The Chinese Family in Taiwan. New York: Columbia University Press.
1988. "Souls and Salvation: Conflicting Themes in Chinese Popular Religion." In James L. Watson and Evelyn S. Rawski, eds., Death Ritual in Late Imperial and Modern China. Berkeley: University of California Press.
1992. Asia Case Studies in the Social Sciences: A Guide for Teaching (editor and contributor). Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe.
2005. "House United, House Divided: Myths and Realities, Then and Now." In House, Home, Family: Living and Being Chinese. Ed.Ronald Knapp. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
2005. Kinship, Contract, Community and State: Anthropological Perspectives on China. Stanford: Stanford University Press.