Document Type

Journal Article

Department/Unit

Department of Sociology

Title

Guanxi, tie strength, and network attributes

Language

English

Abstract

© 2015 SAGE PublicationsGuanxi possesses a variant network form. A characterization of guanxi in terms of its cultural and institutional attributes is provided, paralleling accounts emphasizing respectively its expressive and instrumental qualities. Both are aspects of guanxi’s reputational focus. Tie strength is considered in terms of differences between latent-structure networks, where tie strength discerns patterned differences, and volitionally constructed networks, where it does not. It is shown that as guanxi networks are constituted by iterated obligations, influence (a directing power) cannot flow through them. Obligation (a constraining power) marks the character of guanxi networks. Finally, discussion turns to the information opaque nature of guanxi, resulting from guanxi’s cultivated form and the obligatory relationships underlying it (requiring confidentiality and mutual monitoring of participants). The adaptability of guanxi in different historical contexts, from imperial China to the present-day market reform period, is suggested throughout.

Keywords

information opacity, obligation, volitional networks

Publication Date

2015

Source Publication Title

American Behavioral Scientist

Volume

59

Issue

8

Start Page

1038

End Page

1050

Publisher

SAGE Publications

DOI

10.1177/0002764215580613

Link to Publisher's Edition

http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0002764215580613

ISSN (print)

00027642

ISSN (electronic)

15523381

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