Social structure and support networks in Beijing and Hong Kong

Rance P.L. Lee*, Danching RUAN, Gina W F LAI

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines personal support networks in Beijing and Hong Kong, based on survey data collected in 2000. It was found that these two Chinese cities, which share a common Confucian cultural heritage, are similar in many aspects of social support. The supportive roles of spouse or partner are prominent and diffuse. Other close relatives are more involved in instrumental than emotional support. Non-kin primary ties specialize in emotional support. Neither extended kin support nor institutional support is significant. Nonetheless, the two cities differ in certain aspects of social support, reflecting their differences in such macro social-structural forces as economic modernization, urbanization and the social organization of work. Compared to the Hong Kong Chinese, the Beijing Chinese are more likely to seek support from close kin or coworkers, but less likely to rely on institutional help. Sources of support in both cities are also affected by the micro social-structural positions people occupy, particularly marital status and household income. It is noted that about 10% of the respondents in both cities reported "no one" to turn to for support. Among the various types of support, emotional comfort is the most difficult to find.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-274
Number of pages26
JournalSocial Networks
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Psychology(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Kin support
  • Personal network
  • Social support
  • Workplace ties


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