Guanxi, social capital theory and beyond: Toward a globalized social science

Xiaoying Qi, Hong Kong Baptist University


Western theoretical traditions can benefit from systematic engagement with non- Western concepts: This is shown through an analysis of the Chinese concept guanxi. After considering the general nature of guanxi, including its possible association with corrupt practices and its particular cultural characteristics, the paper goes on to identify the elements of its general form which have universal representation. The possibility of conceiving guanxi as a variant form of social capital is explored. This shows the way in which both the expressive and instrumentalized forms of guanxi indicate otherwise neglected aspects of social and economic relationships not always recognized and addressed by analogous terms current in social theory but which are none the less important for its advancement