Martin K. Whyte

John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Sociology, Emeritus

Martin K. Whyte is the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Sociology, Emeritus. He was Professor of Sociology at Harvard from 2000 to 2015. Previously, he taught at the University of Michigan and George Washington University. His research and teaching specialties are comparative sociology, sociology of the family, sociology of development, the sociological study of contemporary China, and the study of post-communist transitions.

Within sociology, Whyte’s primary interest has been in historical and comparative questions—why particular societies are organized the way they are and how differences across societies affect the nature of people’s lives. Whyte is a member of the American Sociological Association, the Association for Asian Studies, the Sociological Research Association, the Population Association of America, and the National Committee for U.S. China Relations.


  • Comparative sociology;
  • sociology of the family;
  • sociology of development;
  • the sociological study of contemporary China;
  • the study of post-communist transitions

Current Research Interests

Comparative sociology; comparative family systems and family change; the American family; gender roles in comparative context; inequality and stratification; bureaucracy; sociology of China; development.

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“Economic sociology is a science concerning itself with the interpretive understanding of social economic action and thereby with a causal explanation of its course and consequences.”— Max Weber