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Title: Elite formation in market transition : changing opportunity structures and the rise of the sixth generation of Chinese leadership
Author: Yang, Yi
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Scholars often credit China's bureaucracy with successfully manufacturing and tapping individual career inspirations and life chances for governance, giving rise to a robust organization and a resilient authoritarianism. My research challenges this view by examining how such authoritarianism has persisted in China since the third democratization wave starting in the late 1970s, with a case study of the career trajectories and behavioural decisions of bureaucratic elites in China who had achieved accelerated promotion, using deep interviews and multivariate statistics on an original and randomly sampled dataset of the cadre population whose career timeline corresponds to China's early market transition (1977-2006). Empirically, no prior research has focused on achieving accelerated promotion that measures the speed of mobility towards bureaucratic elite status (deputy-ministerial/provincial level) as the dependent variable to be explained: such mobility rate determines one's later chances to top politics. Findings show that cadres achieved accelerated promotions because they made counter-intuitive choices throughout their careers, against the prevailing social norms (social structural priority) of chasing immediate monetary rewards, but these decisions reflected their capacity to cater to their political structural priority reflected in the bureaucratic promotion logic. Thus, these unconventional yet conservative choices during China's market transition decades set statistically significant impact on their ways to a political promotion fast track. Theoretically, Giddens' structuration theory suggests agency action being shaped by structure also reproduces structure in democracies. My research develops his theory in an authoritarian context, by proving that multiple structures started to emerge in China's reform era, compared to the pre-1977 periods, and thus the significance of agency action does not rest soley on one's capacity to reshape structure but also on one's capacity to choose one structure (political career) over another (more profitable private sector career), within which to engineer his/her own mobility path.
Supervisor: Mitter, Rana Sponsor: Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Elite studies ; Politics ; Sociology ; Chinese studies ; Public administration