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Gifts, Favors, and Banquets

by Mayfair Mei-Hui Yang

Part of the The Wilder House Series in Politics, History and Culture Series

Gifts, Favors, and Banquets Synopsis

An elaborate and pervasive set of practices, called guanxi, underlies everyday social relationships in contemporary China. Obtaining and changing job assignments, buying certain foods and consumer items, getting into good hospitals, buying train tickets, obtaining housing, even doing business-all such tasks call for the skillful and strategic giving of gifts and cultivating of obligation, indebtedness, and reciprocity. Mayfair Mei-hui Yang's close scrutiny of this phenomenon serves as a window to view facets of a much broader and more complex cultural, historical, and political formation. Using rich and varied ethnographic examples of guanxi stemming from her fieldwork in China in the 1980s and 1990s, the author shows how this gift economy operates in the larger context of the socialist state redistributive economy.

Gifts, Favors, and Banquets Press Reviews

To what extent did traditional customs and practices persist under the surface during the decades of Mao's rule, or are present forms a genuine revival? To what extent do these revivals testify to the enduring strength of the Chinese cultural tradition or are they to be explained much more as reflections of popular experiences during the socialist and reform eras' Mayfair Yang's book represents one of the most ambitious and systematic attempts to deal with a whole range of such questions. -- Martin King Whyte * The Journal of Asian Studies * I heartily recommend this book. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the meaning of social relationships in Chinese society. -- Gary G. Hamilton * American Journal of Sociology *

Book Information

ISBN: 9780801495922
Publication date: 16th August 1994
Author: Mayfair Mei-Hui Yang
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 384 pages
Categories: Sociology: customs & traditions, Social, group or collective psychology,

About Mayfair Mei-Hui Yang

Mayfair Yang is a professor in the Department of Religious Studies and the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the editor of Spaces of Their Own: Women's Public Sphere in Transnational China.

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