Although scholars have long been interested in inter- and intra-national differences in the role of networks in status attainment, most studies focus on either one or the other. This study combines both by asking: how do inter- and intra-national differences affect the perception that networks are important for status attainment? Analyzing data from the World Values Survey (2006), it shows, firstly, that the perceived value of networks is greater in the United States than in China, which is counterintuitive, as it suggests that the effect of ‘guanxi’ culture in China may be overstated. Secondly, the study draws attention to the role of internal variations within the labour markets of both countries: in the United States, networks are perceived to be more important in the public sector than in the private sector; in China, networks are perceived to be equally important in both sectors. I offer a range of institutional explanations for these differences by invoking concepts such as ‘liberal market economy’ and ‘political patronage’ for the United States and, ‘institutional holes’ and ‘political technocracy’ for China.
BianYanjieGoldThomasGuthrieDouglasWankDavid“Institutional Holes and Job Mobility Processes: Guanxi Mechanisms in China’s Emergent Labour Markets.”Social Connections in China: Institutions Culture and the Changing Nature of Guanxi2002New YorkCambridge University Press117136
DicksonBruceGriesPeterRosenStanley“Dilemmas of Party Adaptation: The ccp’s Strategies for Survival.”State and Society in 21st Century China: Crisis Contention and Legitimation2004New YorkRoutledge141158
DiTomasoNancyParks-YancyRochellePostCorrineDoaneAshleyBonilla-SilvaEduardo“White Views of Civil Rights: Color Blindness and Equal Opportunity.”White Out: The Continuing Significance of Race2003New YorkRoutledge189198
HanserAmyGoldThomasGuthrieDouglasWankDavid“Youth Job Search in Urban China: The Use of Social Connections in a Changing Labour Market.”Social Connections in China: Institutions Culture and the Changing Nature of Guanxi2002New YorkCambridge University Press137162
MayerUlrichSvallforsStefan“Life Courses and Life Chances in a Comparative Perspective.”Analyzing Inequality: Life Chances and Social Mobility in Comparative Perspective2005StanfordStanford University Press1755
WestwoodRobertLeungAliciaChiuRandyFoshPatriciaLevineDavidSnapeEdWestwoodRobert“The Meaning of Work in Hong Kong and Beijing.”Hong Kong Management and Labour: Change and Continuity1999LondonRoutledge12750