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Responsive Authoritarianism in China
Land, Protests, and Policy Making

AUD$129.95 inc GST

  • Date Published: October 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107131132

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About the Authors
  • How can protests influence policymaking in a repressive dictatorship? Responsive Authoritarianism in China sheds light on this important question through case studies of land takings and demolitions - two of the most explosive issues in contemporary China. In the early 2000s, landless farmers and evictees unleashed waves of disruptive protests. Surprisingly, the Chinese government responded by adopting wide-ranging policy changes that addressed many of the protesters' grievances. Heurlin traces policy changes from local protests in the provinces to the halls of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing. In doing so, he highlights the interplay between local protests, state institutions, and elite politics. He shows that the much-maligned petitioning system actually plays an important role in elevating protesters' concerns to the policymaking agenda. Delving deep into the policymaking process, the book illustrates how the State Council and NPC have become battlegrounds for conflicts between ministries and local governments over state policies.

    • Links grassroots politics to elite politics, allowing readers to gain a greater understanding of how small, localised protests can still influence policymaking in an authoritarian system
    • Provides an insider perspective of how the Chinese government perceives and responds to social unrest through extensive use of 'internal' government documents
    • Delves deeper into the policymaking process than previous scholarship, exposing how decisions are made in a very secretive regime
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '[Responsive Authoritarianism in China] is a cogent analysis of Chinese state-society relations that takes us from abandoned rice fields and condemned urban neighborhoods all the way into the most rarified halls of elite policymaking. Christopher Heurlin's expansive argument linking the nomenklatura appointment system with petitioning and other forms of protest is both innovative and persuasive, providing an elegant political explanation for why some protests fail and others succeed in China.' Andrew Mertha, Cornell University

    'The surge of land-related popular protests in China has caught extensive attention in recent years, but it is notoriously difficult to establish causal connections between social protests and policy outcomes. In this book Christopher Heurlin systematically examines the policy making processes triggered by petitions or protests, and offers one of the most illuminating studies on authoritarian responsiveness in China.' Xi Chen, Chinese University of Hong Kong

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107131132
    • length: 244 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 160 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.51kg
    • contains: 6 b/w illus. 6 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Protest and policy outcomes under authoritarianism
    2. Land takings, demolitions, and a rising wave of protest signals
    3. Disruptive tactics and buying stability in local government responsiveness
    4. Social stability and the petitioning system's role in agenda setting
    5. Protest and the political mediation approach in provincial policy making
    6. The state council and the National People's Congress as veto players in the policy outcomes of protests
    7. Conclusion
    Appendix 1. The LexisNexis data set
    Appendix 2. The Zhejiang landless farmer survey
    Appendix 3. Descriptive data on provincial adoption of social security policies.

  • Author

    Christopher Heurlin, Bowdoin College, Maine
    Christopher Heurlin is an Assistant Professor in the Government and Legal Studies Department and Asian Studies Program at Bowdoin College, Maine. He earned a BA from Carleton College, Minnesota and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Washington. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and he has published articles in German Politics and VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations.

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