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Social Science Research Publication: Homophily & Career Mobility in China

 

News

Congratulations to Sonja Opper, Victor Nee, and Stefan Brehm for their recent publication “Homophily in the career mobility of China’s political elite” in Social Science Research.

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Highlights

  • The first paper to explore the role of homophily in political elite recruitment in China.
  • The first paper to show that homophily constitutes a significant factor in promotion of leaders to the top echelon of China’s ruling elite.
  • The study shows, homophily works independently of factional ties and economic performance.
  • The effect of homophily is even more decisive in the sub-sample of turnover candidates.

Abstract

We argue that leadership promotion in China’s political elite relies on homophily for signals of trustworthiness and future cooperative behavior more than on economic performance. We first point to the limitation of the economic performance argument from within the framework of China’s specific M-form state structure, and then we proffer a sociological explanation for why higher-level elites in China rely on homophilous associations in recruiting middle-level elites to the top positions of state. Using a unique dataset covering China’s provincial leaders from 1979 to 2011, we develop a homophily index focusing on joint origin, joint education and joint work experience. We trace personal similarities in these respects between provincial leaders and members of China’s supreme decision-making body, the Politbureau’s Standing Committee. We then provide robust evidence confirming the persisting impact of homophilous associations on promotion patterns in post-reform China.

About Journal

Social Science Research publishes papers devoted to quantitative social science research and methodology. The journal features articles that illustrate the use of quantitative methods to empirically test social science theory. The journal emphasizes research concerned with issues or methods that cut across traditional disciplinary lines. Special attention is given to methods that have been used by only one particular social science discipline, but that may have application to a broader range of areas with an ultimate goal of testing social science theory.

“A hardhitting economic sociology would attempt to draw on the best of sociology and economics, and to unite interests and social relations in one and the same analysis.”— Richard Swedberg