CJ_Lecture 10.pdf - Lecture 10 Guanxi and Chinas formal legal system Dr WANG Peng Department of Sociology University of Hong Kong Discussion What is

CJ_Lecture 10.pdf - Lecture 10 Guanxi and Chinas formal...

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Lecture 10: Guanxi and China’s formal legal system Dr WANG, Peng ( 王鹏 ) Department of Sociology University of Hong Kong
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Discussion: What is ‘ guanxi ’? Why and how guanxi influence China’s formal legal system?
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Outline Defining guanxi The role of guanxi in Chinese society Guanxi and the legal system in contemporary China
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Part 1: Defining Guanxi
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Two main questions What type of phenomenon does guanxi represent in Chinese society? How can we explain its significance as China’s economy continues to develop?
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Cultural scholars Institutional theorists Cultural scholars see guanxi as ‘a unique type of relationship or a behavioural pattern deeply rooted in Chinese history and culture, where “particularistic ties” have long been used for instrumental purpose’ (Chang 2011:315) Guanxi retains its importance in China’s political, social and economic life regardless of economic and political changes. Institutional theorists suggest that guanxi practice should be defined as a reflection of broader institutional and historical changes (Gold et al. 2002a). Social and economic changes in China can greatly contribute to the evolution of guanxi practice (Ledeneva 2008).
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No consensus on the definition of guanxi Jacobs (1979) interprets guanxi as connectedness or particularistic ties . Pye (1982) regards guanxi as friendship sustained by the continuing exchange of favours . Gold (1985: 660) defines guanxi as ‘a power relationship , as one’s control over a valued good or access to it gives power over others’. Hwang (1987) adds that guanxi is a type of reciprocal relationship . Osland (1990: 8) notes that ‘the term [guanxi] refers to a special relationship between a person who needs something and a person who has the ability to give something’. Bian (1997: 369) suggests that guanxi literally means ‘relationship or relation, but its essence is a set of interpersonal connections that facilitate exchanges of favours between people’.
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Characteristics of Guanxi Reciprocity Chinese have ‘a strong sense of reciprocity for developing friendship and saving face for themselves’(Su and Littlefield 2001: 201); a person will be viewed as untrustworthy if he/she violates the principle of reciprocity. Utilitarianism Guanxi relations are maintained through mutual exchange of favors. Guanxi is a mixture of ganqing (emotional feelings of affection or attachment) and renqing (favors/obligatory reciprocity). Transferability Guanxi is transferable. As Luo (2000: 10) explains, ‘if A has guanxi with B and B is a friend of C, then B can introduce or recommend A to C or vice versa’; during this process, B functions as a middleman. Intangibility Guanxi practice follows an invisible and unwritten code of reciprocity and equity (Yan 1996b).
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Part 2: The role of guanxi in Chinese society
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Guanxi practice in Mao’s China
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Under the central planning system A person would find it extremely difficult to survive without cultivating and maintaining guanxi… The reach of personal networks was seriously constrained
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  • Fall '18
  • Karen Ann Laidler
  • Law, Sociology, guanxi, guanxi networks

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