Compelled to compete: Chinese graduates on employment and social mobility after international and domestic study

Zhai, K. , Moskal, M. and Read, B. (2021) Compelled to compete: Chinese graduates on employment and social mobility after international and domestic study. International Journal of Educational Development, 84, 102432. (doi: 10.1016/j.ijedudev.2021.102432)

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Abstract

The article offers unique insights into international and domestic graduates’ career progression and social mobility experiences in China. Drawing on in-depth interview data with master-level graduates, the analytical results reveal that the majority of the participants (both domestic and international) perceive that international graduates have more opportunities and better career progression, but the analytical results show that both domestic and international graduates secured positive employment outcomes. Significant gender disparities exist, as women, both international and domestic graduates, are still disadvantaged in terms of occupational attainment and career prospects and report lower employment satisfaction. All domestic graduates reported not only positive employment outcomes in the labour market but upward social mobility. In contrast, the majority of international graduates reported not having achieved the same level of social status as their parents. Graduates’ differentiated relations to China’s state institutions of Bianzhi, Danwei and Hukou and social connections (Guanxi) heavily influenced their employment trajectories and social mobility. We argue that the participants’ conflicting perceptions are linked to the intense labour market competition encouraged by the sustained expansion of domestic higher education enrolment and amplified by the increasing number of international graduates. The societal institutions defuse to some extent conflicts over economic interests arising from the marketisation of social life.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported jointly by the China Scholarship Council and the University of Glasgow.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Read, Dr Barbara and Moskal, Dr Marta and Zhai, Keyu
Authors: Zhai, K., Moskal, M., and Read, B.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
L Education > L Education (General)
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Journal Name:International Journal of Educational Development
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0738-0593
ISSN (Online):1873-4871
Published Online:23 May 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd.
First Published:First published in International Journal of Educational Development 84: 102432
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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