Communist Neo-Traditionalism: Work and Authority in Chinese Industry

Communist Neo-Traditionalism: Work and Authority in Chinese Industry

Communist Neo-Traditionalism: Work and Authority in Chinese Industry

Communist Neo-Traditionalism: Work and Authority in Chinese Industry

Excerpt

This book is the outcome of a long intellectual and personal journey, whose turning point was my fieldwork in Hong Kong during 1979 and 1980. When I set out for Hong Kong, armed with a set of questions I had derived from reading secondary literature and the official press of the People’s Republic of China, I expected that my interviews with emigres would provide data that would help me to answer them. As usually happens in field research, my conception of the intellectual problems changed, new questions and new perspectives arose, the original questions were discarded as uninteresting or irrelevant, and completely unanticipated perspectives forced their way into my consciousness.

During the course of one year’s field interviews with emigre workers, staff, and managers, three arresting impressions were etched deeply into my mind. None of them had been a part of my original conception of the research. the first was the many-sided dependence of workers on their firms and superiors, something far more extensive than knowledge of formal political and economic institutions would suggest. the second was the central importance of stable vertical ties cultivated by party and management among a devoted minority of workers; these loyalties mingle the official with the personal and create a social cleavage widely reflected in the perceptions, interests, and political activities of workers. Third was a system of political incentives that appears on the surface to be based on political appeals and nonmaterial incentives, but which, in fact, is based on a deep-seated particularism in the allocation of material rewards and career opportunities.

I reported these findings in my 1981 doctoral dissertation and in some journal articles published shortly thereafter, but this turned out to be just the beginning of a second stage in my inquiry. What was I to make of these social patterns? Were they just another example o “informal organization” to be catalogued along with the findings o . . .

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