Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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Danwei (Work Unit)
(966 words)

Danwei constitute the basic organizational units in the economic, political, social and administrative spheres of China's urban areas. Despite general agreement on their importance as the basic unit of Chinese society, their origin, function, and development are controversial. Danwei literally means "unit," in the sense of a unit of measurement or a unit of organization. As units of social organization, danwei can be classified according to their function and their hierarchical status. With regard to the former, danwei are legal persons which employ workers (yongren danwei). The…

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Hebel, Jutta, “Danwei (Work Unit)”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 05 December 2023 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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