Capitalism from Below: Markets and Institutional Change in China

by Victor Nee and Sonja Opper
Harvard University Press
2012

The emergence and robust growth of a private enterprise economy in China was neither envisioned nor anticipated by its political elite. In launching economic reform in 1978, the initial motivation was to address failures of central planning within the institutional framework of state socialism. The political elite approved reform policies in order to stimulate productivity in a command economy weighed down by years of lagging economic performance. With their continuing emphasis on public ownership, the post-Mao reforms seemed nothing other than an ambitious project to shore up the state-owned economy in the aftermath of a calamitous decade of political turmoil. Compared to the sweeping changes under way in other transition economies, the Chinese reform seemed overly conservative, committed to restoration rather than transformative change. Contrary to expectations of economists in the West, however, China’s economic reforms gave rise to a thriving market economy. This book reports the results of a six-year (2005–2011) study that aims to explain the institutional change in China that gave rise to this new economic order.

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On Capitalism

Edited by Victor Nee and Richard Swedberg
Stanford University Press
2007

In On Capitalism leading economists, sociologists, and political scientists develop ideas and insights into the dynamic of capitalism as a global economic order. Unlike studies that focus only on localized descriptions of what has made capitalism function in a specific place, these essays examine the general mechanisms that account for dynamic or rational capitalism. As each chapter shows, the mechanisms motivating and facilitating today's global capitalism are not rooted in the materialist domain of incremental capital accumulation, but in the realm of ideas and institutional structures. Taken as a whole, these essays offer a rich account of the interconnectedness of the economic, political, and religious institutions of modern capitalism.

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The Economic Sociology of Capitalism

Edited by Victor Nee and Richard Swedberg
Princeton University Press
2005

This book represents a major step forward in the use of economic sociology to illuminate the nature and workings of capitalism amid the far-reaching changes of the contemporary era of global capitalism. For the past twenty years economic sociologists have focused on mesa-level phenomena of networks, but they have done relatively little to analyze capitalism as an overall system or to show how such phenomena emerge from and shape the dynamics of capitalism. The Economic Sociology of Capitalism seeks to change this, by presenting both big-picture analyses of capitalism and more focused pieces on institutions crucial to capitalism.

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Remaking the American Mainstream: Assimilation and the New Immigration

by Richard Alba and Victor Nee
Harvard University Press
2003

In this age of multicultural democracy, the idea of assimilation—that the social distance separating immigrants and their children from the mainstream of American society closes over time—seems outdated and, in some forms, even offensive. But as Richard Alba and Victor Nee show in the first systematic treatment of assimilation since the mid-1960s, it continues to shape the immigrant experience, even though the geography of immigration has shifted from Europe to Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Institutional changes, from civil rights legislation to immigration law, have provided a more favorable environment for nonwhite immigrants and their children than in the past.

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The New Institutionalism in Sociology

Edited by Mary C. Brinton and Victor Nee
Russell Sage Foundation
1998

In sociology, new institutionalists led the revival in interest in institutions in organizational theory and economic sociology by shifting the focus of causal reasoning from agent-centric studies of economic and organizational actors to the relationship connecting the firm with its institutional environment. We suggest a multilevel causal model incorporating the connection between the subinstitutional domain of social action and concrete social relationships, and the meso- and macroinstitutional environment of customs, conventions, law, organizations, ideology, and the state as the key elements explaining the rise and demise of institutions. In this model, norms bridge the microworld of individual actors and social groups, and the broader institutional environment.

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Social Exchange and Political Process in China

by Victor Nee
Garland Press
Published in the Harvard’s Best 23 Dissertations in Sociology Series, edited by Aage Sorenson and Liah Greenfield.
1991

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Remaking the Economic Institutions of Socialism: China and Eastern Europe

Edited by Victor Nee and David Stark
Stanford University Press
1989

To what extent can contemporary socialist economies be reformed by the introduction of markets? The question is usually debated in either a Chinese or an East European context; this collection of eleven essays is unique in taking the first steps toward a comparative analysis. Twenty years of experience with reforms in Hungary and a decade of experimentation with reforms in China provide a critical mass of evidence for analyzing the problems endemic to centrally planned economies and the dilemmas faced in efforts to reform them. In reflecting on the Chinese and East European experiences, these essays trace the shift from a conception of reform as a mix of planning and markets within the state sector to a socialist mixed economy with implications for the emergence of new social groups and autonomous social organizations. The essays exemplify a new perspective in the study of state socialism that changes the focus from ideologies to economic institutions, examining how the activities of subordinate groups place limits on the power of state elites.

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