Contemporary Chinese Society and Politics  book cover
1st Edition

Contemporary Chinese Society and Politics

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ISBN 9780415457484
Published March 13, 2009 by Routledge
1872 Pages

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Book Description

Chinese society and its political system are predicated on traditions of governing that are deeply alien to most readers from liberal, Western powers. Chinese governance reflects both a long, indigenous tradition of statecraft and the Leninist legacies of the People’s Republic’s ruling Communist Party. As China becomes ever more powerful—economically, diplomatically, militarily, and culturally—it becomes increasingly important to understand its governing dynamics. But to what extent can social-science theories of political rule, hierarchy and power, class formation, economic development, urbanization, and demographic and family transition, which were developed in Western contexts, explain China’s societal and political dynamics? What sorts of theoretical language have emerged from the study of Chinese society and politics, and how might these theories enable social scientists to view social and political dynamics in other parts of the world in a new light?

Contemporary Chinese Society and Politics, a new four-volume Major Work from Routledge, explores and answers these and other urgent questions by collecting the best foundational and cutting-edge scholarship on Mao-era and contemporary Chinese society and politics. The collection adopts a dual approach. On the one hand, to address the increasing fascination about China among Western scholars and students from a number of disciplines, it collects the best work that empirically describes Chinese society and its politics. On the other hand, to examine the theoretical implications of the study of Chinese society for Western social science, it also brings together the best work to have used empirical examinations of the People’s Republic to interrogate theories developed in Western contexts or to develop new theoretical positions. The editors have in particular paid especial attention to cases where debates have arisen about the proper ways of describing and theorizing Chinese governance and social dynamics.

The first volume in the collection (‘The Maoist Era’) brings together the best work to have been published on Chinese society and politics in the Maoist period (1949–76). Volume II (‘Politics and Social Institutions’), meanwhile, collects the key research dealing with both the theoretical implications and the empirical complexities of the post-Mao evolution at the highest level of the political leadership.

The distinctions between urban and rural are especially significant in the People’s Republic, not least because of China’s system of residential registration which denies rural residents any right to live permanently in a city, and the final two volumes are organized with these fundamental distinctions in mind. Volume III (‘Urban China’) gathers the best work on topics including: urban spaces (e.g. the creation and dismantlement of the socialist city, the creation of virtual cities, and the making of Olympics Beijing); the newly prosperous constituencies (including China’s ‘new rich’ and the development of a huge and increasingly self-identifying middle class); China’s working class; internal migration; and urban social change. Volume IV (‘Rural China in the Reform Era’) includes work brought together under themes such as rural politics; family farming; changes in rural society in a period of economic reform; and China’s ethnic minorities.

Contemporary Chinese Society and Politics is fully indexed and has a comprehensive introduction, newly written by the editors, leading academics in the field, which places the collected material in its historical and intellectual context. It is an essential work of reference and is destined to be valued by scholars and students as a vital one-stop research and pedagogic resource.

Table of Contents


Jonathan Unger, Introduction to Volume I.

Part 1: The Political System

1. Stuart R. Schram, ‘Mao Zedong a Hundred Years On: The Legacy of a Ruler’, The China Quarterly, 137, 1994, 125–43.

2. Martin K. Whyte, ‘Bureaucracy in China: The Maoist Critique’, American Sociological Review, 38, 2, 1973, 149–63.

Part 2: The 1950s and Early 1960s

3. Maurice Meisner, ‘Land Reform: The Bourgeois Revolution in the Countryside’, Mao’s China: A History of the People’s Republic (The Free Press, 1977), pp. 100–12.

4. Mark Selden, ‘Cooperation and Conflict: Cooperative and Collective Formation in the Chinese Countryside’, in Mark Selden (ed.), The Political Economy of Chinese Socialism (M. E. Sharpe, 1988), pp. 54–100.

5. David Bray, ‘Governing Urban China: Labour Welfare and the Danwei’, Social Space and Governance in Urban China: The Danwei System from Origin to Reform (Stanford University Press, 2005), pp. 94–122.

6. Thomas P. Bernstein, ‘Mao Zedong and the Famine of 1959–1960: A Study in Wilfulness’, The China Quarterly, 186, 2006, 421–45.

7. Gordon Bennett, ‘China’s Mass Campaigns and Social Control’, in Amy Auerbacher Wilson, Sydney Leonard Greenblatt, and Richard Wittingham Wilson (eds.), Deviance and Social Control in Chinese Society (Praeger Publisher, 1977), pp. 121–39.

Part 3: Cultural Revolution Upheaval (1966–8) and the Maoist 1970s

8. Hong Yung Lee, ‘Conclusion’, The Politics of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (University of California Press, 1978), pp. 323–48.

9. Anita Chan, ‘Images of China’s Social Structure: The Changing Perspectives of Canton Students’, World Politics, 34, 3, 1982, 295–323.

10. Andrew Walder, ‘The Chinese Cultural Revolution in the Factories: Party-State Structures and Patterns of Conflict’, in Elizabeth J. Perry (ed.), Putting Class in its Place: Worker Identities in East Asia (University of California Press, 1996), pp. 167–98.

11. Jonathan Unger, ‘Cultural Revolution Conflict in the Villages’, The China Quarterly, 153, 1998, 82–106.

12. David Zweig, ‘Dilemmas of the Post-Revolutionary Struggle’ and ‘The Failure of Agrarian Radicalism’, Agrarian Radicalism in China, 1968–1981 (Harvard University Press, 1989), pp. 1–15, 190–201.

Part 4: Social Order and Hierarchy under Mao

13. Sulamith Heins Potter, ‘The Position of Peasants in Modern China’s Social Order’, Modern China, 9, 4, 1983, 465–99.

14. Richard Kraus, ‘Class Conflict and the Vocabulary of Social Analysis in China’, The China Quarterly, 69, 1977, 54–74.

15. Andrew G. Walder, ‘Organized Dependency and Cultures of Authority in Chinese Industry’, Journal of Asian Studies, 42, 1, 1993, 51–76.

16. William L. Parish and Martin K. Whyte, ‘Status and Power’, Village and Family in Contemporary China (University of Chicago Press, 1978), pp. 96–114.

Part 5: Social and Gender Relations

17. Ezra Vogel, ‘From Friendship to Comradeship: The Change in Personal Relations in Communist China’, The China Quarterly, 21, 1965, 46–60.

18. Marjorie Wolf, ‘Eating Bitterness. The Past and the Pattern’, Revolution Postponed: Women in Contemporary China (Stanford University Press, 1985), pp. 1–27.


Luigi Tomba, Introduction to Volume II.

Part 6: Theories of Culture and Power in the PRC

19. Mayfair Mei-Hui Yang, ‘The Gift Economy and State Power in China’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 31, 1, 1989, 25–54.

20. Børge Bakken, ‘On Models, Modelling and the Exemplary’, The Exemplary Society: Human Improvement, Social Control, and the Dangers of Modernity in China (Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 169–210.

Part 7: Governing after Mao

21. Michel Oksenberg, ‘China’s Political System: Challenges of the Twenty-first Century’, The China Journal, 45, 2001, 21–35.

22. Lowell Dittmer, ‘Modernizing Chinese Informal Politics’, in Jonathan Unger (ed.), The Nature of Chinese Politics, From Mao to Jiang (M. E. Sharpe, 2002), pp. 3–37.

23. Elizabeth Perry, ‘Studying Chinese Politics: Farewell to Revolution?’, The China Journal, 79, 2007, 1–22.

24. Dali Yang, ‘Market Transition and the Remaking of the Administrative State’, Remaking the Chinese Leviathan: Market Transition and the Politics of Governance in China (Stanford University Press, 2004), pp. 25–65.

25. Sebastian Heilmann, ‘From Local Experiments to National Policy: The Origins of China’s Distinctive Policy Process’, The China Journal, 59, 2008.

26. Bobai Li and Andrew Walder, ‘Career Advancement as Party Patronage: Sponsored Mobility into the Chinese Administrative Elite’, American Journal of Sociology, 106, 5, 2001, 1371–408.

Part 8: Changing Economic and Administrative Institutions

27. Barry Naughton ‘The Command Economy and the China Difference’, Growing Out of the Plan: Chinese Economic Reform, 1978–1993 (Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 26–55.

28. Anthony Saich, ‘The Blind Man and the Elephant: Analysing the Local State in China’, in Luigi Tomba (ed.), East Asian Capitalism: Conflicts and the Roots of Growth and Crisis (Feltrinelli, 2002), pp. 75–100.

Part 9: The Legal and Policing Systems

29. Murray Scot Tanner and Eric Green, ‘Principals and Secret Agents: Central vs. Local Control Over Policing and Obstacles to "Rule of Law" in China’, The China Quarterly, 107, 2007, 644–70.

30. Randall Peerenboom, ‘Judicial Independence and Judicial Accountability: An Empirical Study of Individual Case Supervision’, The China Journal, 55, 2006, 67–92.

Part 10: Nationalism

31. Christopher Hughes, ‘After 1989: Nationalism and the New Global Elite’, Chinese Nationalism in the Global Era (Routledge, 2006), pp. 55–91.

Part 11: Authoritarianism and Democratization

32. Merle Goldman, ‘From Comrades to Citizens in the Post-Mao Era’ and ‘Redefinition of Chinese Citizenship on the Eve of the Twenty-First Century’, From Comrade to Citizen: The Struggle for Political Rights in China (Harvard University Press, 2005), pp. 1–24, 224–34.

33. Jilin Xu et al., ‘In Search of a "Third Way": A Conversation Regarding "Liberalism" and the "New Left Wing"’, in Gloria Davies (ed.), Voicing Concerns: Contemporary Chinese Critical Inquiry (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001), pp. 199–226.

34. Andrew Nathan, ‘China’s Changing of the Guard: Authoritarian Resilience’, Journal of Democracy, 14, 1, 2003, 6–17.


Luigi Tomba, Introduction to Volume III.

Part 12: Governing Urban spaces

35. Piper Rae Gaubatz, ‘Urban Transformation in Post-Mao China: Impacts of the Reform Era on China’s Urban Form’, in Deborah Davis et al. (eds.), Urban Spaces in Contemporary China: The Potential for Autonomy and Community in Post-Mao China (Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 28–60.

36. Benjamin Read, ‘Revitalizing the State’s Urban "Nerve Tips"’, The China Quarterly, 163, 2000, 806–20.

Part 13: The Chinese Mass Media and Internet

37. Kevin Latham, ‘Nothing but the Truth: News Media, Power and Hegemony in South China’, The China Quarterly, 163, 2000, 633–54.

38. Yongming Zhou, ‘Negotiating Power Online: The Party State, Intellectuals, and the Internet’, Historicizing Online Politics: Telegraphy, the Internet and Political Participation in China (Stanford University Press, 2006), pp. 155–80.

Part 14: Social and Economic Mobility

39. Wenfang Tang and William L. Parish, ‘Life Chances: Education and Jobs’, Chinese Urban Life Under Reform (Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 51–78.

40. Kellee S. Tsai, ‘Capitalist Without a Class: Political Diversity Among Private Entrepreneurs in China’, Comparative Political Studies, 38, 9, 2005, 1130–58.

41. Luigi Tomba, ‘Creating an Urban Middle Class: Urban Engineering in Beijing’, The China Journal, 51, 2004, 1–29.

42. Richard Madsen, ‘The Second Liberation’, in Deborah Davis (ed.), The Consumer Revolution in Urban China (University of California Press, 2000), pp. 312–19.

Part 15: Public Opinion

43. Tianjian Shi, ‘Cultural Values and Democracy in the People’s Republic of China’, China Quarterly, 162, 2000, 540–59.

44. Carolyn Hsu, ‘Trust in Knowledge. Human Capital and the Emerging Suzhi Hierarchy’, Creating Market Socialism: How Ordinary People are Shaping Class and Status in China (Duke University Press, 2007), pp. 157–80.

Part 16: Urban Workers

45. Jonathan Unger and Anita Chan, ‘The Internal Politics of an Urban Chinese Work Community: A Case Study of Employee Influence on Decision-Making at a State Owned Factory’, The China Journal, 52, 2004, 1–24.

46. Ching Kwan Lee, ‘Pathways of Labour Insurgency’, in Elizabeth J. Perry and Mark Selden (eds.), Chinese Society: Change Conflict and Resistance, 2nd edn. (Routledge, 2003), pp. 71–92.

47. Anita Chan, ‘Realities and Possibilities for Chinese Trade Unionism’, in Craig Phelan (ed.), The Future of Organised Labour: Global Perspectives (Peter Lang Publishers, 2006), pp. 275–304.

Part 17: Rural/Urban Migration

48. Tamara Jacka, ‘Negotiations of Modernization and Globalization among Rural Women in Beijing’, Critical Asian Studies, 37, 1, 2005, 51–74.

49. Laurence J. C. Ma and Biao Xiang, ‘Native Place, Migration and the Emergence of Peasant Enclaves in Beijing’, The China Quarterly, 155, 1998, 546–81.

Part 18: The Urban Family and Sexuality

50. Martin King Whyte, ‘Continuity and Change in Urban Chinese Family Life’, The China Journal, 53, 2005, 9–33.

51. Vanessa Fong, ‘China’s One-Child Policy and the Empowerment of Urban Daughters’, American Anthropologist, 104, 4, 2002, 1098–109.

52. Zheng Tiantian, ‘Cool Masculinity: Male Clients’ Sex Consumption and Business Alliance in Urban China’s Sex Industry’, Journal of Contemporary China, 15, 46, 2006, 161–82.


Andrew Kipnis, Introduction to Volume IV.

Part 19: Rural Politics

53. Maria Edin, ‘Remaking the Communist Party-State: The Cadre Responsibility System at the Local Level in China’, China: An International Journal, 1, 1, 2003, 1–15.

54. Jonathan Unger and Anita Chan, ‘Inheritors of the Boom: Private Enterprise and the Role of Local Government in a Rural South China Township’, The China Journal, 42, 1999, 45–74.

55. Li Lianjiang, ‘The Empowering Effect of Village Elections in China’, Asian Survey, 43, 3, 2003, 648–62.

Part 20: Farming in a Post-Socialist Age

56. Zhang Xinxin and Sang Ye, ‘Land’, Chinese Lives: An Oral History of Contemporary China (Penguin Books, 1986), pp. 117–23.

57. Sally Sargeson, ‘Full Circle? Rural Land Reforms in Globalizing China’, Critical Asian Studies, 36, 4, 2004, 637–56.

58. Scott Rozelle, Jikun Huang, and Vincent Benziger, ‘Continuity and Change in China’s Rural Periodic Markets’, The China Journal, 49, 2003, 89–115.

Part 21: The ‘Peasant Burden’, Rural Protests, and the Poor

59. Kevin O’Brien and Lianjiang Li, ‘Popular Contention and its Impact in Rural China’, Comparative Political Studies, 38, 3, 2005, 235–59.

60. Jonathan Unger, ‘Poverty in the Rural Hinterlands: The Conundrums of Underdevelopment’, The Transformation of Rural China (M. E. Sharpe, 2002), pp. 171–96.

61. Jun Jing, ‘Rural Resettlement: Past Lessons for the Three Gorges Project’, The China Journal, 38, 1997, 65–92.

Part 22: Family and Relationships in Village China62. Andrew Kipnis, ‘The Language of Gifts: Managing Guanxi in a North China Village’, Modern China, 22, 3, 1996, 285–314.

63. Yun-xiang Yan, ‘The Triumph of Conjugality: Structural Transformation of Family Relations in a Chinese Village’, Ethnology, 36, 3, 1997, 191–212.

64. Ellen R. Judd, ‘Chinese Women and their Natal Families’, Journal of Asian Studies, 48, 1989, 525–44.

65. Tyrene White, ‘Domination, Resistance and Accommodation in China’s One-Child Campaign’, in Mark Selden and Elizabeth J. Perry (eds.), Chinese Society: Change, Conflict and Resistance, 2nd edn. (Routledge, 2003), pp. 183–203.

66. Scott Rozelle, Lihua Pang, and Alan DeBrauw, ‘Working Until You Drop: The Elderly of Rural China’, The China Journal, 52, 2004, 73–94.

Part 23: Teachings: Schooling and Religion

67. Andrew Kipnis, ‘The Disturbing Educational Discipline of "Peasants"’, The China Journal, 46, 2001, 1–24.

68. Adam Yuet Chau, ‘The Politics of Legitimation and the Revival of Popular Religion in Shaanbei, North-Central China’, Modern China, 31, 2, 2005, 236–78.

Part 24: China’s Rural Ethnic Minorities

69. Stevan Harrell, ‘Civilizing Projects and the Reactions to Them’, in Stevan Harrell (ed.), Cultural Encounters on China’s Ethnic Frontiers (University of Washington Press, 1995), pp. 3–36.

70. Dru Gladney, ‘Representing Nationality in China: Refiguring Majority/Minority Identities’, Journal of Asian Studies, 53, 1, 2004, 92–123.

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