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Social Protest and Contentious Authoritarianism in China

Chen, Xi

978 1 107 42936 9
List price(s):
28.99 USD
18.99 GBP

Publication date:
31 July 2014

Short description: 

Xi Chen explores the dramatic rise in, and routinization of, social protests in China since the early 1990s.

Full description: 

Xi Chen explores the question of why there has been a dramatic rise in and routinization of social protests in China since the early 1990s. Drawing on case studies, in-depth interviews and a unique data set of about 1,000 government records of collective petitions, this book examines how the political structure in Reform China has encouraged Chinese farmers, workers, pensioners, disabled people and demobilized soldiers to pursue their interests and claim their rights by staging collective protests. Chen suggests that routinized contentious bargaining between the government and ordinary people has remedied the weaknesses of the Chinese political system and contributed to the regime's resilience. Social Protest and Contentious Authoritarianism in China challenges the conventional wisdom that authoritarian regimes always repress popular collective protest and that popular collective action tends to destabilize authoritarian regimes.

Table of contents: 

Part I. A Contentious Society: 1. Introduction; 2. The surge in social protests from a historical perspective; Part II. Political Opportunity Structure: 3. Market reforms and state strategies; 4. The Xifang system and political opportunity; Part III. Protest Strategies and Tactics: 5. Between defiance and obedience; 6. 'Troublemaking' tactics and their efficacy; Part IV. Conclusion: 7. Reflections and speculations.


Xi Chen is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His articles have appeared in Comparative Politics and The China Quarterly. He has contributed to three books: Contemporary Chinese Politics: New Sources, Methods, and Field Strategies (Cambridge University Press, 2010), edited by Allen Carlson et al; Popular Protest in China (2008), edited by Kevin O'Brien; and Grassroots Political Reform in Contemporary China (2007), edited by Elizabeth Perry and Merle Goldman.




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