Social Capital and Job Search in Urban China: The Strength-of-Strong-Ties Hypothesis Revisited

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Authors: Elena Obukhova & Letian Zhang

Publication: Chinese Sociological Review, Vol. 49, No. 4, 2017

Abstract: 

The Strength-of-Strong-Ties Hypothesis (SSTH) suggests that because of cultural and institutional factors, Chinese job seekers benefit more from their strong social ties than weak ones. However, the methodology used to support SSTH has not been subjected to robust empirical examination. Using data from job searches of 172 Chinese college graduates, we compared findings from the commonly used direct effects methodology, which examines the effect on income of the strength of a tie used to find a job, with the more robust social capital methodology, which examines the effect of network resources. We found that compared to the latter, the former overstates the effect of strong ties on getting a high-paying job and understates the effect of weak ties. We discuss methodological and substantive implications of our results for further study of social networks in China.

Read full abstract: Chinese Sociological Review