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Staying afloat via guanxi : student networks, social capital and inequality in Chinese adult higher education

Guan, Shanshan; James, Fiona


Shanshan Guan

Dr Fiona James
Lecturer in Education/ Chair of the Faculty of Arts, Cultures and Education Ethics Committee


This study illuminates students’ purposive cultivation of guanxi, or social networks based on continuous exchange of resources, in the context of China’s Adult Higher Education (HE) system. Interviews with 30 students reveal the motivations underpinning their creation of informal ties amongst peers, which they consider to procure beneficial resources for the present and long-term. They deem guanxi with peers to compensate for the isolation they experience. Such experiences, taken in the context of a competitive HE and graduate employment landscape, are then related to social capital. The marriage of the concepts guanxi and social capital is also discussed in light of our analysis.

Journal Article Type Article
Journal British Journal of Educational Studies
Print ISSN 0007-1005
Electronic ISSN 1467-8527
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 1-16
Keywords Mature students; China; Higher education; Guanxi; Social capital
Additional Information Peer Review Statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope.; Aim & Scope: http://www.tandfonline....ope&journalCode=rbje20; Published: 2019-05-27