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postgraduate thesis: University graduates and the job search in urban China : an examination of the culture of personal advancement

TitleUniversity graduates and the job search in urban China : an examination of the culture of personal advancement
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Postiglione, GA
Issue Date2014
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Liu, D. [刘電]. (2014). University graduates and the job search in urban China : an examination of the culture of personal advancement. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5334875
AbstractIn China‘s expanded higher education, middle and upper middle class students continue to outpace those from less privileged backgrounds not only in job access but also occupational attainment. Literature depends mainly on social capital theory, attributing the advantages of middle class students in the graduate labour market to their higher status contacts and vaster social networks. Yet, literature has largely ignored the influence of growing market mechanisms in the graduate labour market, as well as the agency of individual job seekers. Inspired by cultural capital theory, this study is devoted to understanding the cultural processes that underlie individual advancement in a stratified society. Emphasizing the influences of cultural capital in the process and outcome of job searching, this study argues that the advantage of middle class students during job search is determined not only by the higher status contacts embedded in their family social network, but by the tight link between parental involvement, accepted institutional policies and practices, and ideal notions of personhood, i.e., a highly synthesized cultural advancement system. Between January and June, 2012, 60 fourth-year students from two universities in Wuhan were interviewed. Drawing upon these data, it is found that, firstly, the family cultivated certain qualities at the early stage before the student entered higher education. What‘s more, middle class parents always keep their children on the right track of the ‘standard middle class career path‘, and sometimes even act in a more assertive role to ‗correct‘ students‘ derailed inclinations. However, the parents of underprivileged students know little about campus life and the job searching experiences of their children. Secondly, the ―excellence‖ emphasized in school discourse aligns with middle class values. Middle class students are very familiar with the cultural codes and manners required to obtain this ―excellence.‖ Additionally, the evaluation criteria and award mechanisms prevailing on campus also favor the performance of middle class students. Their awards, usually in the form of certificates, prizes or titles, are directly interpreted into higher employability during their job search, contributing to greater opportunities of the middle class during their job search. And thirdly, shaped by their socialization both at home and school, middle class students manage to accumulate a whole set of class-based dispositions towards control and success while underprivileged students fail to do so. Guided by these dispositions, middle class students employ purposeful strategies and demeanours on campus in order to cater to the labour market‘s requirements. The findings suggest that social reproduction during job search is due to the mixed functioning of the cultural advancement system, taking into consideration the negotiation and interaction between the contextual features, i.e., the gradually implemented market mechanism, inadequate legal enforcement, and guanxi as a cultural psychology. This study suggests that the cultural advancement system could be extended through more scholarly thesis to explain how the middle class continue to pull ahead of lower classes, thus perpetuating class inequality in transitional China.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectJob hunting - China
College graduates - Employment - China
Dept/ProgramEducation
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/207204

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorPostiglione, GA-
dc.contributor.authorLiu, Dian-
dc.contributor.author刘電-
dc.date.accessioned2014-12-18T23:17:55Z-
dc.date.available2014-12-18T23:17:55Z-
dc.date.issued2014-
dc.identifier.citationLiu, D. [刘電]. (2014). University graduates and the job search in urban China : an examination of the culture of personal advancement. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5334875-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/207204-
dc.description.abstractIn China‘s expanded higher education, middle and upper middle class students continue to outpace those from less privileged backgrounds not only in job access but also occupational attainment. Literature depends mainly on social capital theory, attributing the advantages of middle class students in the graduate labour market to their higher status contacts and vaster social networks. Yet, literature has largely ignored the influence of growing market mechanisms in the graduate labour market, as well as the agency of individual job seekers. Inspired by cultural capital theory, this study is devoted to understanding the cultural processes that underlie individual advancement in a stratified society. Emphasizing the influences of cultural capital in the process and outcome of job searching, this study argues that the advantage of middle class students during job search is determined not only by the higher status contacts embedded in their family social network, but by the tight link between parental involvement, accepted institutional policies and practices, and ideal notions of personhood, i.e., a highly synthesized cultural advancement system. Between January and June, 2012, 60 fourth-year students from two universities in Wuhan were interviewed. Drawing upon these data, it is found that, firstly, the family cultivated certain qualities at the early stage before the student entered higher education. What‘s more, middle class parents always keep their children on the right track of the ‘standard middle class career path‘, and sometimes even act in a more assertive role to ‗correct‘ students‘ derailed inclinations. However, the parents of underprivileged students know little about campus life and the job searching experiences of their children. Secondly, the ―excellence‖ emphasized in school discourse aligns with middle class values. Middle class students are very familiar with the cultural codes and manners required to obtain this ―excellence.‖ Additionally, the evaluation criteria and award mechanisms prevailing on campus also favor the performance of middle class students. Their awards, usually in the form of certificates, prizes or titles, are directly interpreted into higher employability during their job search, contributing to greater opportunities of the middle class during their job search. And thirdly, shaped by their socialization both at home and school, middle class students manage to accumulate a whole set of class-based dispositions towards control and success while underprivileged students fail to do so. Guided by these dispositions, middle class students employ purposeful strategies and demeanours on campus in order to cater to the labour market‘s requirements. The findings suggest that social reproduction during job search is due to the mixed functioning of the cultural advancement system, taking into consideration the negotiation and interaction between the contextual features, i.e., the gradually implemented market mechanism, inadequate legal enforcement, and guanxi as a cultural psychology. This study suggests that the cultural advancement system could be extended through more scholarly thesis to explain how the middle class continue to pull ahead of lower classes, thus perpetuating class inequality in transitional China.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.subject.lcshJob hunting - China-
dc.subject.lcshCollege graduates - Employment - China-
dc.titleUniversity graduates and the job search in urban China : an examination of the culture of personal advancement-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5334875-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineEducation-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b5334875-

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