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Handling Contention in China: A Theoretical Framework on the Role of the State (抗争治理:一个剖析抗争中国家作用的理论框架)

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image of Rural China

While the study of contention in China has become a “rapid-growth industry,” existing explanations cannot convincingly account for the positive outcome of numerous Chinese protests, many of which lack the social strength required to succeed. Based on a systematic review of these studies, this article finds that an important reason for the weakness of these studies is that they focus on the protesters advocating change rather than the officials handling them. Accordingly, they pay too much attention to the factors increasing social strength, and ignore far more interesting clues about how the state can also influence contention. The article redirects our attention away from protesters and toward officials, and provides a framework for analyzing the handling of Chinese protests based on six analytical dimensions: changes in state capacity, tensions between different dimensions of state legitimacy, contradictions in the xinfang system, divisions among elites, state-society links, and state strategies in response to protests. This more meticulous examination of the state’s position thus supplements the previously informative but incomplete understanding of the Chinese state and sheds further light on the dynamics and outcomes of Chinese protests.基于对海内外近20年来有关中国社会抗争研究的述评,本文指出了现有文献中的一个不足,即“国家”视角的缺失,并据此提出了一个“抗争治理”的理论框架。这一框架包括“多元合法性的张力”、“国家能力的变化”、“信访体系的矛盾”、“官僚机构间的分歧”、“官民权力利益关系的强弱”和“抗争治理的策略”六个方面,从“政府官员”的视角更细腻地剖析了国家与社会在抗争中的互动,对我国加强和创新社会管理能力具有积极的价值。 (This article is in English.)

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, Wuhan University, China, guixiaowei@whu.edu.cn

10.1163/22136746-01401010
/content/journals/10.1163/22136746-01401010
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