162 pages | 4 B/W Illus.
This book examines questions of change and inertia in the context of the longstanding grievances over excessive taxation in rural China. How can some changes be sustained, whilst others cannot? How can a longstanding administrative practice be changed or even terminated, especially when previous attempts at change have failed?
Using extensive interview data with local and central bureaucrats, Li's findings highlight the role of parallel developments and agency in the change process, as well as the prevalence of contingency and uncertainty. It also elegantly blends the narrative of the rural tax and administrative reforms with theoretical discussions to deepen our understanding of policy process and institutional change in 21st century China. Despite the authoritarian political system, the Chinese state-in-action which emerges from this book sees actions stemming from both the central and local levels, mediated by strategic design as well as contingency.
This book will be of interest to students and scholars of Chinese Studies, political science and policy and development studies.
"The author successfully employs numerous theoretical concepts, such as institutionalism, path dependency, and policy analysis to illuminate her empirical material. This makes the study very useful for graduate students in the social sciences who are learning how to analyze Chinese data in terms of relevant theories… Interviews with Beijing officials allowed Li to gain a degree of insight into top-level motivations, which is often missing from studies of rural politics. Graphs and tables illuminate the points Li is making… This volume is a significant, specialized contribution to our understanding of the predicament of the countryside." - Thomas Bernstein, China Information, September 2012.
Introduction 1. Path creation? Processes and networks: how the Chinese rural tax reform began 2. Differentiated actors: central-local politics in reform evolution 3. Embedded institutionalization: sustaining reform effects 4. State and market in public service provision: opportunities and traps 5. Path dependence, agency and implementation in local administrative reform 6. Working for the peasants: strategic interactions and unintended consequences Conclusion