Home > Website archive > Public events > Events > 2010 > New Year Celebration and Urban Networks in a Relational Society: Greeting, Gift, and Banquet Exchanges in Four Chinese Cities

New Year Celebration and Urban Networks in a Relational Society: Greeting, Gift, and Banquet Exchanges in Four Chinese Cities

China in Comparative Perspective Network (CCPN) public seminar

Date: Tuesday 9 March 2010
Time: 7-8pm
Venue:  Seligman Library A607, Old Building
Speaker: Professor Yanjie Bian
Chair: Dr Xiangqun Chang

In celebrating Chinese New Year urban residents participate in an intense round of visiting, gift giving, and feasting with family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours.  While the norm of exchange is generally presumed to have no regional or class variation, it is possible that increased commoditisation and commercialization since 1989 have altered the incentives or pressures to comply with the general norms. Would ritualized exchanges at New Year's celebration have become more optional in commoditised and commercialized localities and would levels of exchange also vary by individual or household characteristics?  To address these questions, we analyze New Year exchanges among nearly 400 urban households in four different metropolitan regions.  Overall we find no variation by economic class, educational or political capitals but a very marked pattern of variation by city and neighbourhood.  In short, our study suggests that in an era of rapid economic change and increased commercialization ritual exchanges remain central for cultivation of social relationships but that local cultural norms and the stability of neighbourhoods can affect the intensity and scope of the exchanges.

Yanjie Bian is a professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota; Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science and the Director of the Institute for Empirical Social Science Research at Xi'an Jiaotong University; and is a co-PI of the Chinese General Social Survey.  He was a former chair professor and the head of the social science division and the funding director of the Survey Research Center, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; a past president of the North American Chinese Sociologists Association; he is the current chair for the Asia and Asian America Section of the American Sociological Association. Professor Bian's research interests are: social stratification and mobility, social networks, economic sociology, contemporary Chinese society, sociology of China and methodological approaches from studies of China. Bian's current research is focused on Social capital of Chinese firms; Social networks and employment processes in Chinese society; Institutional change and social stratification and mobility in post-Mao China. Professor Bian is an author and a co-editor of seven books, and many journal articles and book chapters in both English and Chinese.

This event is free and open to all with no ticket required. Entry is on a first come, first served basis. For more information contact Dr Xiangqun Chang by email x.chang@lse.ac.uk, phone 0208 099 4815.

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