The use of guanxi in everyday life: The Case of School Selection in China

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Ruan, Ji (2015)
  • Subject: HM

This research focuses on the use of guanxi (Chinese personal connections) in everyday urban life: in particular, how and why people develop their bonding, bridging and linking social capital in their guanxi networks. While much existing research focuses on the roles of bonding, bridging and linking social capital in different contexts, little is known about the process of developing and using these three types of social capitals in Chinese society. Although Kwang Kwo Hwang, Yunxiang Yan, and Xianqun Chang have distinguished different types of guanxi related to closeness, how these are related to social capital remains unknown. The study presented here aims to fill this gap in the research.\ud \ud Data of this research was drawn from two ethnographic studies of school place allocation in two Chinese cities during 2012-2013. The research finds that ritual is vital in guanxi practice, and it has more significant impact in moderate guanxi than close and distant guanxi. When la guanxi, people tend to apply Confucian li to show more Confucian ren in order to gain the same level of ren treatment in return from others. Thus, guanxi capital is mostly gained by ritual investment due to the influence of Confucianism. Based on this finding, the research proposes a new concept, described as “ritual capital”, which refers to a part of an individual’s cultural capital, fostered and maintained through practice of proper ritual.
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