Social Stratification in Transitional Economies: Property Rights and the Structure of Markets
In transitions from state socialism, property rights are re-allocated to organizations and groups, creating new markets and new forms of economic enterprise that reshape the stratification order. A generation of research has estimated individual-level outcomes with income equations and mobility models, relying on broad assumptions about economic change. We redirect attention to the process of economic change that structures emerging markets. The process varies across market sectors, depending on the entity that is granted rights formerly exercised by state organs, and on the combination of rights they are granted. The transformation of three sectors in China—agriculture, steel manufacturing, and real estate—shows how different allocations of property rights alter the stratification order in strikingly different ways. Historical analysis of the evolution of markets and enterprises integrates insights from economic sociology into research on social stratification, providing a structural perspective on transitions from state socialism.