Social class and friendship formation among young people in urban China under Mao

Danching Ruan


Friendship formation is a classic topic in sociology. This paper addresses this issue in the context of socialist China under Mao (1949-1978). Although social equality is the dominant ideology, friendship ties were still more prevalent within class in Mao’s China. This paper will analyze this friendship pattern in terms of “induced homophily” and “choice homophily”, as well as the social exchange perspective. The data for this study comes from two sources. One is the in-depth interviews with people who grew up in Beijing, the Capital of China, between 1949 and 1978, and whose parents were either administrative elites or professional elites. The other source of data is published or semi-published memoirs (posted on-line) written by people from these two groups.

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