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Institutional structures and social mobility in China: 1949-- 1996

Опубликовано на портале: 19-05-2004
Xiaogang Wu
Научный руководитель: Donald J. Treiman
Организация: University of California, Los Angeles
Подтип: PhD
Тематические разделы: Социология, Экономическая социология, Экономическая социология: Социально-экономическая дифференциация. Бедность, Социальная стратификация

Institutional theory argues that the stratification system of a society is built upon its dominant mode of economic integration, and thereby that social inequalities under state socialism are qualitatively different from those under market capitalism. In this dissertation I argue that socialist stratification differs from capitalist stratification not only in the criteria according to which individuals are screened into different status groups, but also in the concept of social status per se. I identify three key institutions visible in state socialist China: the household registration (hukou) system, the work unit system, and the employment status system, and demonstrate how they have highly structured Chinese citizens' life chances and general well being. Although the distinctiveness of these institutions remains problematic and requires further comparative research, the first step—taken in this dissertation—is to explore the extent to which they affect the stratification system of China. Using data from the 1996 Chinese Life History Survey, I conduct an analysis of social mobility in terms of getting urban hukou status, joining high-status work units, and obtaining cadre status.

Results show that (1)receiving education or obtaining political credentials are two major channels for individuals to achieve upward social mobility in the hierarchical status system of socialist China; (2)there exist high rates of inter-generational inheritance in terms of status as defined in the Chinese institutional context; (3)although one can overcome disadvantages in family background by acquiring educational and political credentials, access to these two fundamental currencies of mobility is highly constrained by one's hukou origin and first work unit affiliation. The analysis reveals an intertwined relationship among hukou status, work unit status, and employment status. The temporal trend of social mobility, especially the impact of economic reform, is also addressed. Economic reform, especially during its late stage, has yielded limited consequences for the Chinese stratification system. The research contributes to understanding of how the Communist party-state controlled and allocated life chances and status, which in Western societies is allocated mainly through competition in labor markets.

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