The Landscape of Grassroots Administration
The preceding chapters have taken a close look at state-backed ultra-local administrative bodies in Beijing and Taipei. From the outset, though, this book has made the case for thinking of these two institutions as part of a broader family of governance arrangements found in many contexts. I argue that a comparative awareness of other cases is not just a thought-provoking coda to inquiry in China and Taiwan but in fact is essential for appreciating the two institutions on which this book focuses and for thinking clearly about the patterns of state-society interaction that they display.
Chapter 2 reviewed the historical threads tying together the East and Southeast Asian cases, and Chapter 3 glanced at leadership selection in several of them. Building on that foundation, this chapter fleshes out the argument for this common conceptual framework. It shows how examples of administrative grassroots engagement in other countries compare to the two primary cases, pointing out some basic commonalities as well as disparities. It draws on several particularly illuminating studies of the Japanese and Indonesian variants, my own modest field research on the South Korean case, and somewhat fragmentary evidence on Cuba’s parallel organization. Each of the cases is unique in certain ways, and (like China and Taiwan) each contains important variation at the individual, neighborhood, and city level. Despite this, these institutions not only have significant similarities in terms of their organizational structure