Bringing strong ties back in: Indirect ties, network bridges, and job searches in China

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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 dur-ing job searches and (2) between direct ties and indirect ties used by jobseekers. 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 in-termediaries 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-385
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Sociological Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1997


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