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After reviewing social exchange theory and identifying emotions as key to exchange relations the article introduces Chinese guanxi as a form of gift exchange, elsewhere treated in terms of its network attributes. The obligatory nature of exchange, noted by Mauss and extensively discussed by Blau, is explained through ‘social sentiments’ that substantiate assurance in exchange. The emotions-complexes renqing and ganqing, basic to guanxi, are outlined. Social esteem as a consequence of participation in exchange distinguishes the latter from bribery, in which coercion predominates. The article advances sociological understanding in these and associated ways by regarding exchange and guanxi as arenas of emotion practices.


Institute for Religion, Politics, and Society

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Journal Article

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