Abstract

Abstract:

This article traces the socio-economic origins of the first generation of the visibly richest private entrepreneurs in China by analysing the roles of political background, family connections and culture capital. Based on a data set essentially reconstructed from two leading Chinese rich lists from 2003 to 2012, the author finds no clear evidence to support the hypothesis of "strong political capitalism". The theory of "interrupted embourgeoisement" is applicable to those who come from pre-communist elite or petty-bourgeois families, but more than half of the rich founders were born into the lower-middle class, such as the urban working class or peasantry. Moreover, for those who majored in social sciences and humanities, having a college degree is considered a ticket for landing a job in a public institute early in their career, while those having credentials in sciences and engineering are more likely to start their business in relevant areas directly. The author concludes that although each factor is vital, none of these provides a satisfactory single explanation for individual super-wealth. There is also a significant distinction between pioneers (early adopters) and newcomers (the recently established entrepreneurs).

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Additional Information

ISSN
0219-8614
Print ISSN
0219-7472
Pages
pp. 75-97
Launched on MUSE
2017-06-06
Open Access
No
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