Cheng-Tong Lir Wang





I am interested in exploring the interplay of norms, global-local connections, and civil society, and how the interplay shapes human activities. Norms, particularly in the forms of international treaties and local laws, are constantly shaped in local and global processes. In these norm-shaping processes, organizations and individual activists in the civil society are a force to be reckoned with; since the second half of the 20th century, it has become common that they gain the momentum through resources and inspiration transmitted by a myriad of transnational connections. Even when organizations do not actively participate at the global level, these global-local connections still allow norms to diffuse and influence domestic organizations and laws. The result of this interplay affects human activities, which propels the subsequent interplay. 

Inspired by the core research interest, my works often tackle parts of the interaction processes. Following are some of the previous or current research projects. 

In a co-authored paper with Ralph Hosoki, I explore the transnational ties through which Taiwanese environmental NGOs receive foreign influence. The research takes a qualitative approach to enrich world society theory’s understanding of diffusion mechanisms. Currently, professor Evan Schofer and I coordinate a group a researchers to expand the original research design to a collaborative comparative project on several other countries. 

Aside from the main projects, I am drafting an article about the glocalization of environmentalist language. Analyzing the content of a series of newspaper op-eds published by a Taiwanese environmental NGO, I decipher how Taiwan’s environmental NGOs consciously maintain a complicate balance between the vocabulary and logic developed by global environmentalism and the perspective of the Global South. 

My dissertation project evaluates the behavioral influences of global norms by examining the world society influences on national nuptial patterns, specifically divorces and child marriage. Theoretically, this project evaluates whether the “world society influence” extends beyond policy projects and actually into personal lives. It assesses the conditions of the influence, if any, by comparing two behaviors with respect to which the global norms develop with vastly different levels of explicitness. It also probes one of the core questions of international development project—does NGO actually help?

On the sociology of law side, I am currently working on two projects. One project bridges the social movement theories and legal mobilization perspective to understand the role of legal professionals and their work with social movements pursuing litigation strategy. This paper explores one of the very first campaigns deploying this strategy in Taiwan, a non-litigious society with very weak tradition of the politics of rights. The role of legal professionals are complex and multi-faceted. 

The other project, built on my early work on the media image of Chinese criminal defense lawyers, further explores how Chinese newspaper media portray lawyers’ difficulties in criminal cases and the need for criminal procedural reform. My co-author, Puman Shen, and I argue that we should build a nuanced understanding of the multiple, sometimes self-contradictory faces of Chinese media, rather than simply viewing them as mouthpiece of an authoritarian regime.