Accepting Authoritarianism: State-Society Relations in China's Reform Era

Accepting Authoritarianism: State-Society Relations in China's Reform Era

Accepting Authoritarianism: State-Society Relations in China's Reform Era

Accepting Authoritarianism: State-Society Relations in China's Reform Era


Why hasn't the emergence of capitalism led China's citizenry to press for liberal democratic change? This book argues that China's combination of state-led development, late industrialization, and socialist legacies have affected popular perceptions of socioeconomic mobility, economic dependence on the state, and political options, giving citizens incentives to perpetuate the political status quo and disincentives to embrace liberal democratic change.

Wright addresses the ways in which China's political and economic development shares broader features of state-led late industrialization and post-socialist transformation with countries as diverse as Mexico, India, Tunisia, Indonesia, South Korea, Brazil, Russia, and Vietnam.

With its detailed analysis of China's major socioeconomic groups (private entrepreneurs, state sector workers, private sector workers, professionals and students, and farmers), Accepting Authoritarianism is an up-to-date, comprehensive, and coherent text on the evolution of state-society relations in reform-era China.


Ask most americns whether it is possible to have economic freedom without political freedom, and the answer will be an unequivocal “no”— yet this seemingly contradictory and unstable situation has characterized China for more than thirty years. Despite the country's dramatic economic growth and liberalization, political freedoms have been severely constrained, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has allowed no challenge to its rule. With the exception of village elections, there have been few signs of increased political liberalization, and in fact there is some evidence of political constriction.

What accounts for this counterintuitive reality, and what might lead toward liberal democratic change? Unlike other countries, where authoritarian political leaders have faced international constraints that have pressed them to undertake democratization, today's China is almost entirely invulnerable to foreign threats and entreaties. the world's other major powers tend to tiptoe around the Chinese leadership, out of fear that angering China will inhibit prof table economic relations with its market. Thus, to a large extent, China's political future will be determined by relations between the ruling party- state and the Chinese people. Without public pressure for systemic political reform, the current ruling elite is unlikely to initiate it.

Given this political environment, it is crucial that we understand the concrete ways in which China's dramatic economic reforms have changed statesociety relations, both in terms of politics and economics. Indeed, because relations between the ruling ccp and society have not become increasingly strained, China has flouted the expectations of Western policy makers and academics, especially since the early 1990s. Despite a marked upsurge in popular . . .

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