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Social Capital and Rural Grassroots Governance in China


  • Min Xia



This article examines the impacts of two types of social capital – bonding and bridging – upon the performance of grassroots selfgovernment institutions in rural China, based on an original survey of 410 villages throughout the whole of China. The findings indicate that, on the one hand, bonding social capital still has a very solid foundation in the rural areas of China. On the other, bridging social capital is in formation in Chinese villages, even though the stock of bridging social capital is currently very moderate. Moreover, this study finds that bridging social capital, as manifested in general trust and inclusive social networks, positively affected the governance performance of each surveyed village. Yet, bonding social capital, as manifested in particular trust and exclusive social networks, tends to negatively impact the performance of Chinese rural governance. These findings help clarify some theoretical issues about, and shed some light on the prospects of, the rural self-governance system in China.

Suggested Citation

  • Min Xia, 2011. "Social Capital and Rural Grassroots Governance in China," Journal of Current Chinese Affairs - China aktuell, Institute of Asian Studies, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 40(2), pages 135-163.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:chaktu:v:40:y:2011:i:2:p:135-163

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-1288.
    2. Hall, Peter A., 1999. "Social Capital in Britain," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(03), pages 417-461, June.
    3. Arthur C. Brooks, 2005. "Does Social Capital Make You Generous?," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 86(1), pages 1-15.
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    China; social capital; rural governance;


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