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The Structure of Labor Markets in the US and China: Social Capital and Guanxi

  • Nancy DiTomaso (a1) and Yanjie Bian (a2) (a3)
Abstract

Despite the major cultural and political differences between the United States and China, in both countries access to jobs is supposed to be guided by fair and equitable procedures. In the US, there is a presumption of an open labor market in which potential employees compete on the basis of their qualifications, where the fairness of decisions is guided by anti-discrimination laws and normative organizational policies. In China, although there is a history of close relationships that guide the exchange of favors, following the 1949 revolution, Communist Party leaders were given the authority to allocate positions in ways that were supposed to eliminate special privileges of class and background. Yet recent research has suggested that social connections are an important part of getting a job in both the US and China for two-thirds to three-quarters of job seekers. In the US context, such connections are described as social capital. In the Chinese context, connections are defined as guanxi. In this article, we review research on labor market processes in both the US and China to address three important questions: (a) How can we understand the similar functioning of labor markets in such distinct cultural and political systems as the US and China? (b) What are the mechanisms or processes by which people find jobs in the US and China, and how are people able to access these mechanisms or processes in the context of constraining social structures and legal environments? and (c) What are the theoretical implications of the ‘generalized particularism’ that seems to shape labor markets in both the US and China.

摘要:

尽管美国和中国存在着重要的文化和政治差异, 两个国家的劳动力市场进入都受到了公平公正程序的指导。美国假定劳动力市场是开放的, 潜在雇员基于他们的资质竞争求职, 决定的公平性受到反歧视法律和规范的组织政策的影响。中国在历史上亲密关系会影响恩惠交换, 但共产党领导在1949年拥有分配岗位的权力后, 希望消除阶层和背景而获得的特殊优待。不过, 近期的研究表明, 对于三分之二到四分之三的美国和中国求职者来说, 社会联系对于找到工作都具有重要的作用。这种联系在美国被描述为社会资本, 在中国则被界定为关系。我们在本文中回顾美国和中国劳动力市场过程的研究, 以便解决三个重要问:(a)我们如何理解在文化和政治体系上截然不同的美国和中国却在劳动力市场上具有相似的功能༟(b)在美国和中国, 人们找工作的机制或过程是什么样的༟在社会结构和法律环境制约的环境下, 人们怎样能够进入这些机制或过程༟(c)似乎影响美国和中国劳动力市场的“普遍化的特殊主义”具有什么理论意义༟

अमरीका व चीन में मजदूरी बाजार संरचना: सामाजिक पूंजी व गुआंची

अमरीका व चीन के बीच महत्त्वपूर्ण सांस्कृतिक व राजनैतिक अंतरों के बावजूद दोनों ही देशों में नौकरियों की सुलभता योग्यता, न्यायपरकता व निष्पक्षता से प्रेरित है. अमरीका में एक खुले नौकरी बाजार की अवधारणा है जिसमें अभिलाषी उम्मीदवार अपनी योग्यता के आधार पर प्रतिस्पर्धारत होते हैं और जहाँ निर्णय की निष्पक्षता विभेद-विरोधी कानून व नियामक संगठनात्मक नीतियों पर आधारित है. चीन में यद्यपि घनिष्ठ संबंधों के आधार पर अनुग्रह के आदान-प्रदान का इतिहास रहा है तथापि 1949 की क्रांति के उपरांत कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी के नेताओं को पद वितरण में वर्ग व सामुदायिक पृष्ठभूमि सम्बद्ध विशेषाधिकारों को समाप्त करने हेतु अधिकार दिया गया. लेकिन सम्प्रति शोध के अनुसार दोनों ही देशों में सामाजिक सम्बन्ध तीन-चौथाई आवेदकों के लिए नौकरी पाने में महत्वपूर्ण हैं. अमरीका में इन संबंधों को सामाजिक पूंजी की तरह परिभाषित किया जाता है. चीन के सन्दर्भ में इन संबंधों को गुआंची कहा जाता है. इस शोध पत्र में हमने अमरीका व चीन के मजदूरी बाजार सम्बद्ध शोध का निम्नलिखित तीन प्रश्नों के आधार पर निरीक्षण किया है: (1) चीन और अमरीका जैसी नियत सामाजिक-राजनैतिक व्यवस्थाओं के मजदूरी बाजार की समानताओं को कैसे समझा जा सकता है? (2) किन प्रक्रियाओं से लोग अमरीका व चीन में नौकरी पाते हैं और किस प्रकार उनको सीमाबद्ध सामाजिक संरचना व कानूनी वातावरण में यह प्रक्रियाएं सुलभ होती हैं, और (3) चीन व अमरीका के मजदूरी बाजार को निरूपित कर रही ‘सामान्यीकृत अनन्यता’ के क्या सैद्धांतिक आशय हैं?

SUMÁRIO:

Apesar das grandes diferenças culturais e políticas entre os Estados Unidos e a China, em ambos os países se espera que o acesso a empregos seja guiado por procedimentos justos e equitativos. Nos EUA, existe a presunção de um mercado de trabalho aberto no qual os empregados em potencial competem com base em suas qualificações, em que a justiça das decisões é guiada por leis anti-discriminação e políticas organizacionais normativas. Na China, embora haja uma história de relações próximas que guiam a troca de favores, após a revolução de 1949, os líderes do Partido Comunista receberam a autoridade para alocar posições de maneiras que deveriam eliminar privilégios especiais de classe e formação. No entanto, pesquisas recentes sugeriram que as conexões sociais são um importante componente na obtenção de um emprego nos EUA e na China de dois terços a três quartos dos que procuram emprego. No contexto dos EUA, tais conexões são descritas como capital social. No contexto chinês, as conexões são definidas como guanxi. Neste artigo, revisamos a pesquisa sobre processos do mercado de trabalho nos EUA e na China para abordar três importantes questões: (a) Como podemos entender o semelhante funcionamento dos mercados de trabalho em sistemas culturais e políticos tão distintos como os EUA e a China? (b) Quais são os mecanismos ou processos pelos quais as pessoas encontram empregos nos EUA e na China, e como as pessoas conseguem acessar esses mecanismos ou processos no contexto de estruturas sociais e ambientes legais restritivos? e (c) Quais são as implicações teóricas do “particularismo generalizado” que parece moldar os mercados de trabalho tanto nos EUA quanto na China.

АННОТАЦИЯ:

Несмотря на значительные культурные и политические различия между США и Китаем, существует распространенное мнение о том, что доступ к рабочим местам в обеих странах основывается на справедливых и равноправных процедурах. В США действует презумпция открытого рынка труда, в котором потенциальные сотрудники конкурируют на основе их квалификации, в то время как справедливость решений регулируется на основе антидискриминационного законодательства и нормативных организационных процедур. Несмотря на то, что в Китае существует традиция прочных личных отношений, которые играют основную роль при оказании взаимной помощи, руководители коммунистической партии после революции 1949 года получили полномочия распределять должности таким образом, чтобы исключить особые привилегии, связанные с социальным статусом и происхождением. Однако, недавние исследования показали, что социальные связи играют важную роль при получении работы как в США, так и в Китае для двух третей до трех четвертей всех лиц, ищущих работу. В контексте США, такие связи описываются как социальный капитал. В китайском контексте, эти связи определяются как guanxi. В данной статье, мы рассматриваем исследования процессов на рынке труда в США и в Китае для решения трех важных вопросов: (а) Как понимать сходное функционирование рынков труда в таких различных культурных и политических системах, как США и Китай? (б) Каковы механизмы или процессы, с помощью которых люди находят работу в США и Китае, и насколько люди могут пользоваться этими механизмами или процессами в условиях неблагоприятных социальных структур и ужесточения правовой среды? а также (c) Каковы теоретические выводы из концепции «обобщенного партикуляризма», который, по-видимому, формирует рынки труда как в США, так и в Китае.

RESUMEN:

A pesar de las grandes diferencias culturales y políticas entre los Estados Unidos y China, en ambos países se supone que el acceso a los empleos debe estar guiado por procedimientos justos y equitativos. En los Estados Unidos, existe una presunción de un mercado laboral abierto en el que los empleados potenciales compiten en función de su preparación, donde la imparcialidad de las decisiones se rige por leyes antidiscriminatorias y políticas organizacionales normativas. En China, aunque existe una historia de relaciones cerradas que guían el intercambio de favores, después de la revolución de 1949, a los líderes del Partido Comunistas les fue dada la autoridad para asignar posiciones de tal manera que se supone eliminarían los privilegios especiales de clase y antecedentes. Aún así, la investigación reciente ha sugerido que las conexiones sociales son una parte importante para conseguir empleo tanto en los Estados Unidos como para China para dos tercios de las tres cuartas partes de quienes buscan trabajo. En el contexto de los Estados Unidos, tales conexiones son descritas como capital social. En el contexto chino, las conexiones son definidas como guanxi. En este artículo, revisamos la investigación en procesos laborales tanto en los Estados Unidos como en China para abordar tres preguntas (a) ¿Cómo podemos entender el funcionamiento similar de los mercados laborales en sistemas culturales y políticos tan diferentes como los Estados Unidos y China? (b) ¿Cuáles son los mecanismos o procesos mediante los cuales las personas encuentran trabajo en los Estados Unidos y China, y cómo pueden las personas acceder a estos mecanismos o procesos en el contexto de estructuras sociales y entornos legales restrictivos?, y (c) ¿Cuáles son las implicaciones teóricas del “particularismo generalizado” que parece darle forma a los mercados laborales de los Estados Unidos y China?

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Corresponding author
Corresponding author: Yanjie Bian (bianx001@umn.edu)
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