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走向绩效社会 : 中国城镇的代际流动(1966-2003)

Towards a meritocratic society? : intergenerational mobility in urban China (1966-2003)


Authors Li, Yu (李煜)
Issue Date 2006
Summary Intergenerational mobility, or the linkage between parental and child's socioeconomic statuses, is an important dimension of opportunity structure in any society and naturally draws close attention from students of social mobility and social stratification. How have market-oriented reforms changed the pattern of intergenerational mobility in urban China? To what extent do individual socioeconomic statuses (destinations) dependent on parental statuses (origins) and what is the actual extent of status inheritance? To what extent has the course of marketization transformed the stratification system in such way that status attainment becomes the sole outcome of personal achievement? To guide an empirical inquiry about these questions, the author develops a conceptual framework that distinguishes three ideal-typical mobility regimes: mobility under the mode of meritocratic contest; mobility under the mode of status inheritance; and mobility under the mode of state sponsorship. Based on this framework, the author emphasizes the connections and dynamics between mobility regimes and societal contexts, examines the institutional foundations of intergenerational mobility in different periods of contemporary China, and adopts 'mobility table analysis' techniques to analyze data collected in the 2003 Chinese General Social Survey to conduct a series of tests of the research hypotheses derived from the conceptual framework. In empirical analyses, the author focuses on institutional changes during three historical periods: the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the early market reform (1977-91), and the later market reform (post-1992), and assesses the varying effects of family background on children's educational achievement and occupational attainment across the periods. The main findings are: (1) the radical policies of the Cultural Revolution, driven by Mao's socialist ideology of equalization, placed political virtue above merits in educational and occupational screening, favored the children of working classes, and patterned the mobility regime under the mode of state sponsorship; (2) the early reform era saw the reappearance of higher education entrance examinations and the abolishment of state-sponsored policy, family backgrounds in educational achievements and occupational attainments became important, which enhanced the association between social origin and destination; and (3) the post-1992 period placed more emphasis on meritocratic selection in job recruitment, and coupled with the expansion of higher education and other social policies (e.g., one-child policy), this shift of emphasis reduced the effects of family backgrounds on children's educational achievement and occupational attainment, allowing for greater degree of status mobility, rather than status inheritance, in an increasingly open class system. These empirical findings imply that Chinese society may be on the way to a less rigid mobility regime and move toward a meritocratic system along with enhanced market reforms after 1992.
Note Thesis (Ph.D.)--Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 2006
Language Chinese
Format Thesis
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