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Guanxi, How China Works

Guanxi, How China Works

Yanjie Bian

ISBN: 978-1-509-50039-0 January 2019 Polity 200 Pages


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How do social relations, or guanxi, matter in China today and how can this distinctive form of personal connection be better understood? In Guanxi: How China Works, Yanjie Bian analyzes the forms, dynamics, and impacts of guanxi relations in reform-era China, and shows them to be a crucial part of the puzzle of how Chinese society operates.

Rich in original studies and insightful analyses, this concise book offers a critical synthesis of guanxi research, including its empirical controversies and theoretical debates. Bian skillfully illustrates the growing importance of guanxi in diverse areas such as personal network building, employment and labor markets, informal business relationships, and the broader political sphere, highlighting guanxi’s central value in China's contemporary social structure.

A definitive statement on the topic from a top authority on the sociology of guanxi, this book is an excellent classroom introduction for courses on China, a useful reference for guanxi researchers, and ideal reading for anyone interested in Chinese culture and society.

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“Yanjie Bian is the pre-eminent scholar on social networks and guanxi in China and this monograph is the benchmark of his theoretical and methodological analysis of guanxi and its global implications. A must-read for scholars and students on social networks everywhere.”
Nan Lin, Duke University

“Combining deep knowledge of Chinese culture with expertise in global network theory, Professor Yanjie Bian offers the definitive book on guanxi – the interpersonal connections through which personal achievement happens in China, and often (by other names) in the West.”
Ronald S. Burt, University of Chicago