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Isomorphic Pressures, Epistemic Communities and State–NGO Collaboration in China*

  • Reza Hasmath (a1) and Jennifer Y.J. Hsu (a2)

This article suggests that the lack of meaningful collaboration between the state and NGOs in China is not solely a result of the state seeking to restrict the development of the sector, or the fear of a potential opposing actor to the state; instead, interviews with NGOs in Beijing and Shanghai suggest that a lack of meaningful engagement between the state and NGOs can be partially attributed to isomorphic pressures within state–NGO relations, and insufficient epistemic awareness of NGO activities on the part of the state. In fact, the evidence suggests that once epistemic awareness is achieved by the state, it will have a stronger desire to interact with NGOs – with the caveat that the state will seek to utilize the material power of NGOs, rather than their symbolic, interpretive or geographical capital.

该论文指出, 中国政府与非政府组织 (NGO) 之间合作的缺乏并不能完全归咎于政府对该领域发展的限制, 或是出于对一个潜在的政府反对者的害怕。与北京和上海的 NGO 访谈显示, 政府与 NGO 之间缺乏有意义的合作的部分原因是同构压力, 以及政府对于 NGO 活动认知的缺乏。 事实上, 证据显示, 一旦政府获得了对 NGO 工作的认知, 它将会更加愿意与 NGO 建立联系。当然必须说明的是, 政府想要利用的是 NGO 的物质资源, 而非他们的象征性, 阐释性, 或是地理上的资本。

Corresponding author
Email: (corresponding author).
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The authors are grateful for the valuable feedback received at seminar presentations at the Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California at Berkeley; Lau China Institute, King's College London; NGO Research Center, Tsinghua University; East Asia Workshop, University of Chicago; Chinese Politics Research Workshop, Harvard University; the Centre for Chinese Studies, University of California at Los Angeles; and the 2013 Forum on NGO Governance and Management in China (Edmonton, Canada). This research is supported by the Social Science Research Council of Canada.

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