People Feature

Linda Hong Cheng

DPhil in Sociology

Linda Hong Cheng is a Clarendon Scholar at Nuffield College, affiliated with the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science (LCDS) and International Max Planck Research School for Population, Health and Data Science (IMPRS-PHDS).

Linda's research interests broadly encapsulate novel applications of computational social science (machine learning, agent based modelling, NLP, etc.) to analyses of colonial-patriarchal gender disparities, social inequalities, social demographic trends, and contentious politics. Her DPhil research, affiliated with the Gates Foundation-funded Digital Gender Gaps project, establishes ‘digital gender circularity’: The symbiotic relationships between increasing digital gender equality, offline gender equality, and global sustainable development. 

Linda is particularly interested in decolonial applications of machine learning methods within the social sciences. Most recently, she was the youngest scholar invited to contribute a chapter to the Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Machine Learning. Her chapter takes a critical decolonial approach to natural language processing (NLP) as both conceptual framework and practical toolkit, pointing out its inherent Eurocentrism and Anglocentrism. Establishing a new subfield situated at the intersections of sociology, computational methods, and China studies she terms ‘Chinese computational sociology’, Linda suggests new and exciting avenues for the incorporation of non-European languages, particularly Chinese, into NLP frameworks.

Prior to Oxford, Linda completed her MA in Regional Studies: East Asia at Columbia University, where she was the only student in her cohort fully funded by the Weatherhead East Asia Institute--FLAS Fellowship. Her Master’s thesis, forthcoming in Mobilization: An International Quarterly, uses NLP, novel dictionary methods, feature engineering, and statistical methods on novel big data from Weibo to analyse gender bias in media and government attention to protest events in Mainland China. Of particular interest in this work is how patriarchy is made, unmade, reified, and transgressed by the actions of individual actors, government bureaucracy, and media institutions.

Linda’s undergraduate senior honours thesis, winner of the prestigious Chancellor’s Best Honours Thesis Prize, uses simple survey and interview methods to analyse the complex, oft-contradictory motivations behind the 1989 Tiananmen Square student-protesters’ choice of ‘Nothing To My Name’ as their protest anthem. Through micro-exploratory profiles of civilians, protesters, and state actors, this work weaves a larger political-economic tapestry of China’s turbulent post-1978 reform era—ultimately culminating in the explosive Tiananmen protests. Linda's research critically intervenes in mainstream Western-dominated narratives of the Tiananmen protests, conceptualising the protests as a site through which students attempted to negotiate their relationship (and loss thereof) with the state—the loss of ‘everything’. 

Currently, Linda teaches:

  • Politics of Social Movements, which analyses contentious politics and state-society relations through an anti-colonial lesbian/queer feminist framework;
  • Political Activism in China, which critically analyses watershed political movements in contemporary China;
  • Sociology of Social Change, which interrogates neo-colonialism through exploring varied vehicles of social transformation in post-colonial societies throughout the world.


Cheng, Linda (Forthcoming). “A ‘Rigged Algorithm’? Gender-Biased Stratification of Government and Media Attention on Weibo.” International Conference on Social Media & Society Proceedings. March 2024.

Cheng, Linda, and Yao Lu (In Press, 2024). “Chapter 5. Chinese Computational Sociology: Decolonial Applications of Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing Methods in Chinese-Language Contexts.” In Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Machine Learning: ML as a methodological toolbox, edited by Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra and Christian Borch.

Cheng, Linda, Yao Lu, and Han Zhang (In Press, 2024). “Patriarchal Erasure and Manufactured Passivity: Gender Bias in Government and Media Attention to Protests in China.” Mobilization: An International Quarterly 29(2).

Cheng, Linda. “Informal Labor Stratification in Pandemic-Era Asia: Considering Gender, Class, and Nativity.” Asian Pacific Affairs Council Journal (Invited Contributor), May 2023.

Cheng, Linda. “Resilience Among Gender Marginalized People in China During COVID-19 中國性邊緣者於新冠疫情中的韌性.” 12th Consortium of African and Asian Studies (CAAS) Proceedings (Invited Contributor), August 2022.

Cheng, Linda. “Accounting for the Gender-Protest-Media Triad Using Quantitative and Computational Methods.” The Reed (Invited Contributor): 16-20, July 2022.

Cheng, Linda. “Gender Dynamics of Protest and Visibility in China: Biased Erasure and Manufactured Passivity.” SynThesis Abstract Journal, Columbia University. April 2021.

Cheng, Linda. “Breach of Trust as Fuel for Protest: Tiananmen Demonstrations and the Erosion of State-Society Relations in 1980s China.” UNC-CH Senior Honors Theses. May 2020.

Cheng, Linda. “Women’s Liberation in China: Necessity or Afterthought?JOURney 2: 69-73. March 2019.