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Bringing Strong Ties Back in: Indirect Ties, Network Bridges, and Job Searches in China

Yanjie Bian
American Sociological Review
Vol. 62, No. 3 (Jun., 1997), pp. 366-385
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2657311
Page Count: 20
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Bringing Strong Ties Back in: Indirect Ties, Network Bridges, and Job Searches in China
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Abstract

Granovetter's (1973, 1974) "strength-of-weak-ties" argument has led to fruitful research on how individuals are matched to jobs in market economies. In analyzing the institution for assigning jobs in China, I make distinctions (1) between information and influence that flow through networks during job searches and (2) between direct ties and indirect ties used by job-seekers. I find that in China personal networks are used to influence authorities who in turn assign jobs as favors to their contacts, which is a type of unauthorized activity facilitated by strong ties characterized by trust and obligation. In a 1988 survey in Tianjin, I find that (1) jobs are acquired through strong ties more frequently than through weak ties, (2) both direct and indirect ties are used to obtain help from job-assigning authorities, (3) job-seekers and their ultimate helpers are indirectly connected through intermediaries to whom both are strongly tied, and (4) job-seekers using indirect ties are more likely to obtain better jobs than those using direct ties.

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