State and Society in 21st Century China: Crisis, Contention, and Legitimation

By Young, Graham | The China Journal, July 2005 | Go to article overview

State and Society in 21st Century China: Crisis, Contention, and Legitimation


Young, Graham, The China Journal


State and Society in 21st Century China: Crisis, Contention, and Legitimation, edited by Peter Hays Gries and Stanley Rosen. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004. xvi + 263 pp. £19.99 (paperback).

The ambitious scope of this book is evident from the terms in its title-state, society, crisis, contention, legitimation. It is clearly a challenge to encompass all of these large themes in a work of some 250 pages, and to integrate the approaches of 12 authors in order to address those themes in a systematic fashion. By and large the challenge is met successfully. What might have been a rather mundane collection of reports concerning social conflicts in China is enriched by the skill of the contributors in synthesizing the findings of large bodies of recent research while adopting a self-conscious intention to "rethink" frameworks of scholarly analysis.

The areas of contention covered include two chapters on unemployed workers-Dorothy Solinger on "the shift of the urban proletariat from master to mendicant" and Timothy Weston on the state's reneging on its "social contract" with industrial workers, focusing on unemployment in "the Chinese rust belt". Patricia Thornton examines local-level tax protests; Kevin O'Brien, local cadre misconduct; and Colin Mackerras, Han-minority relations. Teresa Wright writes on the China Democracy Party and the China Labor Bulletin, Stanley Rosen on attitudes and behavior of Chinese youth, and Brace Dickson on Communist Party adaptation, especially its strategy of inclusion. Two chapters concern nationalism-Peter Gries on the changing relationship between official nationalism and expressions of popular nationalism, and Richard Kraus on the significance of regaining plundered Chinese art works. Vivienne Shue addresses the notion of legitimacy crisis most explicitly, and Harley Balzer offers a comparative perspective on transition from state-socialism, focusing on Russia.

This is a very good book. To a large extent the editors have adopted a formula of guaranteed success, in presenting chapters by authors of the highest standing in their areas of expertise, such as Solinger or Mackerras. The collection not only has state-of-the-field authority but also conveys the complexity of issues by unpacking the terms "state" and "society", providing an effective and encompassing view of the sources of contention in Chinese society and politics and the relationships between the two. Also impressive is the sense of the dynamics of emerging contention. Most notable here is the chapter by O'Brien, typical of the subtlety and insight of his analyses of Chinese politics.

While contention is richly portrayed, the other two terms of the sub-title are not served so well. It is not clear that we are in any way presented with a "crisis", in either of the senses commonly used-a great danger, or a major turning-point. Indeed, several of the contributors suggest otherwise, as in Shue's sceptical views on the existence of any "crisis of legitimacy" (p. 43) and Balzer's more general cautionary comments.

In dealing with legitimation, the book tends to suggest questions without always getting very far in suggesting answers. To some extent this is a result of the commitment indicated by the editors-"an inductive, bottom-up interrogation of political contestation in China", in order to avoid the problems of "liberal bias" and "procrustean [approaches], foisting Western categories and concepts on Chinese realities" (pp. 4-5). The benefit of that commitment can be seen in the solid empirical groundings of most of the chapters. Nevertheless, several chapters see the utility of extra-Chinese categories and concepts. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

State and Society in 21st Century China: Crisis, Contention, and Legitimation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.