Macquarie University
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Capitalist dynamics in a reforming state socialist economy: labour markets, class and inequality in a Chinese high-technology development zone

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posted on 2022-03-28, 16:02 authored by Ivan Cucco
Quantitatively-oriented sociological research on inequality and stratification in post-Mao China is mainly concerned with understanding how material rewards and chances for social mobility accrue to individuals endowed with different levels of human, social and political capital. The presence of structural determinants of inequality, when acknowledged, is generally attributed to sectoral, organizational and geographical factors or to institutionally-generated labour market segmentation. The role of social class as a structural determinant of inequality has instead been entirely neglected. -- This thesis addresses the gap in the literature by applying Wright's neo-Marxist class analysis to a case study of employee compensation and job search networks in a Chinese New- and High- Technology Development Zone. The study combines qualitative evidence collected during twelve months of fieldwork in Nanjing with quantitative data gathered through a survey of 98 randomly- selected white collar employees. Employees were assigned to a class location according to their levels of skill and authority. The study then assessed the effect of class location on the distribution of wages and benefits and on the use of job search networks. -- The results show that (a) class location has a significant effect on the distribution of wages and benefits net of individual-level attributes; (b) class location mediates the effect of individuallevel factors such as education and work experience; (c) the mobilization of social networks during the job search process shows clear class patterns. Although the research is based on a single case study, the results suggest that structural determinants of inequality in China cannot be univocally attributed to socialist legacies and market imperfections, but that they derive at least in part from the emergence of capitalist class relations.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Class location and wage distribution -- A class analysis of benefits distribution -- Job search networks and social class -- Conclusions.


Bibliography: p. 254-273 This thesis is presented for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, 29 July 2011

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Economics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Economics.

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Melanie Beresford

Additional Supervisor 1

Laura Prota


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Ivan Cucco 2012.




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