Re-Conceptualizing Guanxi: A Case Study of a Transnational Thai-Yunnanese Businesswoman in Thailand’s Chiang Mai Province
This paper argues that guanxi should be re-conceptualized through an
adaptation and modification of Bourdieu’s “capital” for the purpose of elucidating class
mobility under transnational conditions. Ontologically, this paper liberates guanxi from
the dichotomy trap of either cultural essentialism or institutionalism, which are steeped
in static, discursive, homogenizing and non-globalizing perspectives. Through an
in-depth case study of a transnational Thai-Yunnanese businesswoman with historical
marginality, this paper propounds guanxi as social capital, spiritual capital and cultural
capital. Distinctively, these dialectical and simultaneously co-existing forms of capital
provide legitimation and recognition of symbolic capital for the process of upward
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