Han Zhang

Assistant Professor of Sociology and International and Public Affairs
Areas of Expertise Cybersecurity, Social Movements
Areas of Interest Social Movements; Digital Surveillance; Computational Social Science; Statistical Methodology


Han Zhang is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and International and Public Affairs at Brown University. He obtained his PhD in Sociology from Princeton University, and his B.S. in Computer Science and B.A. from Peking University. His substantive research interests include social movements (particularly in China) and digital surveillance (on a global scale). He also works on developing statistical and machine learning methods for computational social science. His research has won best paper awards from the American Sociological Association and the International Communication Association.


My research employs computational social science methods, utilizing machine learning algorithms to create large-scale datasets from diverse image and text data sources. These datasets are pivotal in addressing substantive questions within my field. My substantive areas include the interrelated dynamics of protests and surveillance.

My first major project involved constructing a dataset of protest events in contemporary China (post-2010), which facilitated a comprehensive analysis of trends, causes, effects, and media biases associated with protests. The findings from this project have contributed to a deeper understanding of social dynamics in a controlled media environment.

The second major project I led developed a global-scale dataset detailing surveillance camera density across more than 1,000 cities and 100 countries. My current research explores how this increasing surveillance capability enables states to preemptively curb protests, potentially altering the foundational dynamics of social movements.

Additionally, I am recognized for my innovative work in developing methodologies for the analysis of large-scale image datasets in social science research.


Linda Cheng, Yao Lu, and Han Zhang (forthcoming), "Gendered Erasure and Manufactured Passivity: Asymmetric Media Attention to Protests in China." Mobilization.

Han Zhang, Yao Lu, and Rui Bai (forthcoming), "Underrepresentation and Misrepresentation: Selection and Description Bias in Protest Reporting by Government and News Media on Weibo." The China Quarterly.

Larry Liu and Han Zhang (2023), "Robots and Protest: Does Increased Protest Among Chinese Workers Result in More Automation?" Socio-Economic Review, 21(3), 1751-1772.

Wei Lai, Elaine Yao, and Han Zhang (2023), "Authoritarian Responsiveness and Political Attitudes During COVID-19: Evidence from Weibo and a Survey Experiment." Chinese Sociological Review, 55(1), 1-37.

Han Zhang and Yilang Peng (2022), "Automated Image Clustering for Social Scientists: Review and Assessment of the Performance." Sociological Methods and Research.

Han Zhang and Jennifer Pan (2019), "CASM: A Deep-Learning Approach for Identifying Collective Action Events with Text and Image Data from Social Media." Sociological Methodology, 49(1), 1-57.