The China Quarterly

Focus on Urban Labour

Guanxi and the Allocation of Urban Jobs in China*

Yanjie Bian

There has been considerable documentation concerning the use of guanxi to acquire power, status and resources in Communist China. More recently, guanxi has been seen as a mechanism to explain status trans-mission from the older generation to the younger under state socialism, as a key factor in the development of private businesses in the cities during market reforms, and as an effective strategy for individuals to get ahead in a more open, market-like rural society. This article describes and analyses guanxi in the context of China's urban job allocation.


* A faculty development grant from the University of Minnesota's College of Liberal Arts supported the preparation of this article during the summer of 1992. An earlier version was presented at the annual meeting of the International Sociological Association Research Committee on Social Stratification in Durham, North Carolina, USA, 8–11 August. Revisions since then benefited from the helpful comments and suggestions of Nan Lin.