Guanxi Networks in China

  • Jiang, Ke (Department of Communication, University of California) ;
  • Barnett, George A. (Department of Communication, University of California)
  • 발행 : 2013.10.31


This paper explores the influences of the traditional Chinese culture on social relations in China. It provides an introduction to the concept of Guanxi, the notion that social connections are based on socially situated reciprocity. This is different from social interaction in Western society that is based on self-interest and equity. Guanxi represents the foundation of social networks in many Eastern countries. As such, the study of social networks in China requires scholars to examine Guanxi networks. The paper demonstrates how a Guanxi perspective might be added to the examination of various theories that comprise structural (network) theory, including social capital theory, social exchange theory, cognitive and contagion theories, and the role of homophily for the study of Chinese society and its social organizations.



  1. Barnett, G.A. (1988). Communication and Organizational Culture. In G.M. Goldhaber & G.A. Barnett (Eds.), Handbook of Organizational Communication (pp. 101-130), Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
  2. Barnett, G.A. & Rosen, D. (2007). The global implications of the Internet: Challenges and prospects. In Y. Kamalipour (Ed.), Global Commendation 2nd edition (pp. 157-180) Wadsworth: Belmont, CA.
  3. Blau, P. M. (1964). Exchange and power in social life. New York: Wiley.
  4. Brass, D. J. (1995). A social network perspective on human resources management. Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, 13, 39-79.
  5. Burt, R. S. (1992). Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  6. Burt, R. S. (1997). The contingent value of social capital. Administrative Science Quarterly, 42, 339-365.
  7. Burt, R. S. (2001). Structural holes versus network closure as social capital. In N. Lin, K. Cook, & R. S. Burt (Eds.), Social capital: Theory and research (pp.31-56). New York: de Gruyter.
  8. Byrne, D. E. (1971). The attraction paradigm. New York: Academic Press.
  9. Bourdieu, P.. (1984). Distinction: a Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. R. Nice, translator. Harvard University Press.
  10. Carley, K. (1991). A theory of group stability. American Sociological Review, 56, 331-354.
  11. Carley, K. M., & Kaufer, D. S. (1993). Semantic connectivity: An approach for analyzing symbols in semantic networks. Communication Theory, 3, 183-213.
  12. Coleman, J. S. (1957). Community conflict. New York: Free Press.
  13. Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94, 95-120.
  14. Danowski, J.A. (1980). Group attitude-belief uniformity and connectivity of organizational communication networks for production, innovation, and maintenance content. Human Communication Research, 6, 299-308.
  15. Emerson, R.M. (1962). Power-dependence relations. American Sociological Review, 27, 31-41.
  16. Emerson, R.M. (1972a). Exchange theory, part 1: A psychological basis for social exchange. In J. Berger, M. Zelditch, & B. Anderson (Eds.) Sociological Theories in Progress (Vol.2, pp. 38-57). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  17. Emerson, R.M. (1972a). Exchange theory, part 2: Exchange relations and networks. In J. Berger, M. Zelditch, & B. Anderson (Eds.) Sociological Theories in Progress (Vol.2, pp. 58-87). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  18. Emirbayer, M., & Goodwin, J. (1994). Network Analysis, Culture, and the Problem of Agency. American Journal of Sociology, 99(6):1411-54.
  19. Erickson, B. (1988). The relational basis of attitudes. In S. D. Berkowitz & B. Wellman (Eds.), Social structures: A network approach (pp. 99-121). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  20. Freeman, L.C. (1979). Centrality in social networks. Social Networks, 1, 215-239.
  21. Gold, T., Guthrie, D., & Wank, D. (2002). Social Connections in China: Institutions, Culture and the Changing Nature of Guanxi. Cambridge University Press.
  22. Greenberg, J., & Cohen, R.L. (1982). Why Justice? Normative and Instrumental Interpretations. In J. Greenberg, & R.L. Cohen (Eds.) Equity and Justice in Social Behavior, (pp. 437-66), New York: Academic.
  23. Homans, G. C. (1950). The human group. New York: Harcourt Brace.
  24. Homans, G. C. (1974). Social behavior: Its elementary forms (Rev. Ed.). New York: Harcourt Brace.
  25. Hwang, K.K. (1987). Face and favor: The Chinese power game. American Journal of Sociology, 92 (4), 944-974.
  26. Ibarra, H. (1993). Personal networks of women and minorities in management: A conceptual framework. Academy of Management Review, 18, 56-87.
  27. Ibarra, H. (1995). Race, opportunity, and diversity of social circles in managerial networks. Academy of Management Journal, 38, 673-703.
  28. Ignatow, G. (2007). Theories of Embodied Knowledge: New Directions for Cultural and Cognitive Sociology?. Journal for the theory of Social Behaviour, 37(2):115-35.
  29. King, A. Y. (1980). An Analysis of "Renqing" in Interpersonal Relationships: A Preliminary Inquiry. pp. 413-28 in proceedings of the International Conference on Sinology (in Chinese). Taipei: Academia Sinica.
  30. Krackhardt, D. (1987b). Cognitive social structures. Social Networks, 9,109-134.
  31. Laumann, E. O. (1966). Prestige and association in an urban community. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill.
  32. Lgnatow, G.. (2007). Theories of Embodied Knowledge: New Directions for Cultural and Cognitive Sociology?. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 37(2), 115-35.
  33. Lizardo, O.. (2004). The Cognitive Origins of Bourdieu's Habitus. Journal for the theory of Social Behaviour, 34(4), 375-401.
  34. Marsden, P. V. (1988). Homogeneity in confiding relations. Social Networks, 10, 57-76.
  35. McPherson, J. M., & Smith-Lovin, L. (1987). Homophily in voluntary organizations: Status distance and the composition of face-to-face groups. American Sociological Review, 52, 370-379.
  36. Mizruchi, M.S.. (1994). Social Network Analysis: Recent Achievements and Current Controversies. Acta Sociologica, 37(4), 329-343.
  37. Monge, P.R., & Contractor, N.S. (2003). Theories of Communication Networks. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  38. Rogers, E.M., & Kincaid, D.L. (1981). Communication Networks: Toward a New Paradigm for Research. New York: Free Press.
  39. Smith, C.. (2003). Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture. Oxford University Press.
  40. Turner, J. C. (1987). Rediscovering the social group: A self-categorization theory. Oxford: Blackwell.
  41. Vaisey, S. (2008). Socrates, Skinner, and Aristotle: Three Ways of thinking about Culture in Action. Sociological Forum, 23(3):603-13.
  42. Vaisey, S., & Lizardo, O.. (2010). Can Cultural Worldviews Influence Network Composition?. Social Forces, 88(4), 1-24.
  43. Walster, E., Walster, W.W., & Berscheid, E. (1978). Equity: Theory and Research. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

피인용 문헌

  1. Understanding the size and spread of Chinese NGO networks: capacity and board affiliations vol.10, pp.1, 2017,
  2. Analysis of technological innovation based on citation information vol.51, pp.3, 2017,
  3. The affecting tourism development attitudes based on the social exchange theory and the social network theory pp.1741-6507, 2021,
  4. The individual influence factors of voluntary turnover among knowledge workers in China: A case study of Huawei vol.16, pp.2, 2013,
  5. Effects of relational capital on relationship between place attachment and resident participation vol.32, pp.1, 2013,