Zi Wang


► Short CV

Zi Wang is postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of East Asian Studies and co-investigator (with Florian Coulmas) of the research project “Language, Migration and Happiness”, fully funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). He obtained his PhD (summa cum laude) in sociology and Japanese studies from the University of Duisburg-Essen in 2018 and has since held visiting lectureships/fellowships in France (Sciences Po Paris and Sciences Po Lille), Italy (Ca’ Foscari Venice) and Japan (Waseda University). Zi Wang has numerous publications that span multiple fields from education to happiness and migration to youth studies. These include two research monographs, Migration, Language and Happiness (Routledge, forthcoming) and The Discursive Construction of Hierarchy in Japanese Society: An Ethnographic Study of Secondary School Clubs (De Gruyter, 2020). In 2019, he co-edited a special issue in the Journal of Asian Pacific Communication (JAPC) on Asian diasporas in Western Europe (with Florian Coulmas), upon invitation by the JAPC editorial team at John Benjamins. His solicited book reviews on demographic change (Japan) and education (China and Japan) have appeared in Asian Studies Review and Contemporary Japan. Zi Wang’s research interests span the disciplines of happiness studies, migration research and youth studies. The main focus of his works is to find out how factors such as education and language affect well-being, especially for migrants and youths. His extensive fieldwork experience includes a year-long ethnographic study of secondary school students in Japan, in-depth interviews with migrant families in Germany, and designing a four-language (Chinese-German-Japanese-Turkish) questionnaire on migration, language use and well-being.

► Research Interests
  • Happiness research
  • Language and migration
  • School to work transition in Japan
  • Youth in Japan


► DFG Project Language, Migration and Happiness of Chinese, Japanese, and Turkish communities in Germany

(together with Florian Coulmas)

Does using one’s native language in a foreign environment contribute to happiness? This is the overarching question this project will address. The impact of many other social variables – marital status, religion, employment, income, leisure, quality of governance, education, among others – on happiness has been investigated empirically, but not language. The focus of this three-community comparative study is on what relationship exists between language maintenance and happiness for minority communities of diverse profiles and backgrounds for their residence in Germany. It will help us to gain a more comprehensive understanding of language as a social and individual variable. No similar study has been done before.

Project Number 404408794, 2018–2021

Link to project website

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Institute of East Asian Studies
Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften

IN-EAST School
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