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Sandrine Ruhlmann

For Mongols, sharing food is more than just eating meals. Through a process of “opening” and “closing”, on a daily basis or at events, in the family circle or with visitors, sharing food guarantees the proper order of social relations. It also ensures the course of the seasons and the cycle of human life. Through food sharing, humans thus invite happiness to their families and herds. Sandrine Ruhlmann has lived long months, since 2000, in the Mongolian steppe and in the city. She describes and analyzes in detail the contemporary food system and recognizes intertwined ideas and values inherited from shamanism, Buddhism and communist ideology. Through meat-on-the-bone, creamy milk skin, dumplings or sole-shaped cakes, she highlights a whole way of thinking and living.

Series:

Edited by William Hurst

This collection includes seven essays translated from the leading Chinese-language journal Open Times. Bringing together a wide range of leading experts across several disciplines, this book offers critical insights on some of the most important questions of contemporary urban Chinese politics and society. Drawing on extensive research across different localities and issues in China, the chapters offer rich data and fresh analyses of the shifting contours of urban governance, social mobilization and contention, and mechanisms of social control in the new Millennium. Taken together, this collection represents the most comprehensive look in some years at how urban Chinese political institutions have adapted and responded to challenges and how social actors and groups have mobilized to press for redress of substantial new grievances.

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Edited by Masamichi Sasaki

Trust in Contemporary Society, by well-known trust researchers, deals with conceptual, theoretical and social interaction analyses, historical data on societies, national surveys or cross-national comparative studies, and methodological issues related to trust. The authors are from a variety of disciplines: psychology, sociology, political science, organizational studies, history, and philosophy, and from Britain, the United States, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, and Japan. They bring their vast knowledge from different historical and cultural backgrounds to illuminate contemporary issues of trust and distrust. The socio-cultural perspective of trust is important and increasingly acknowledged as central to trust research. Accordingly, future directions for comparative trust research are also discussed.

Contributors include: Jack Barbalet, John Brehm, Geoffrey Hosking, Robert Marsh, Barbara A. Misztal, Guido Möllering, Bart Nooteboom, Ken J. Rotenberg, Jiří Šafr, Masamichi Sasaki, Meg Savel, Markéta Sedláčková, Jörg Sydow, Piotr Sztompka.

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Xiaoyun Chen and Ran Duan

Translator James Philip Weldon

Abstract

By analyzing the wide opposition to the building of a waste incineration power plant in G City, this paper describes the pattern of women’s participation in environmental contention. It shows how women choose to move between home and society in that participation: prompted by concerns about environmental risks, they go out from the home to the frontlines of anti-incinerator protest and then come back to their communities to promote domestic waste recycling. This choice of action has the protection of home as its emotional impetus. The arena of activity is the community, and women operate freely there, employing a dual strategy combining opposition and cooperation. The authors conclude that environmental contention is a very new area for women’s participation in public life; within such contention the limitations placed on women by traditional culture and women’s role as main actors in the protests coexist. There is scope for further exploration of the linkages between gender roles and contention.

Series:

Dewen Lü

Translator Rui Zhao

Abstract

The rise of urban violence in China over the past decade differs from the Western experience in that it is neither a sign of the failure of urban communities nor a simple legal issue of violent crime. Rather, it is the product of special urban governance mechanisms. In gray governance, a large number of gray zones are created in urban spatial practice, and semi-official operations dominate front-line administration, so that a delicate balance is maintained between those in power and those who are affected by that power. Although there is an asymmetric relationship between those who govern and those who are governed, power in practice is restrained and flexible, and the governed also have autonomous space, so that the cross-boundary interaction between them presents a mixed state of alliance, compromise, resistance, and attack. The process of gray governance includes a protective consultation mechanism and a boundary change mechanism. Within the context of enhanced organizational regulation and media mobilization, the mode of compliance between governor and governed might not be sustainable, whereupon mutual attack dominates the cross-boundary relationship. In such a situation, grey governance reproduces urban violence.

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Yonghong Zhang and Ching Kwan Lee

Translator Roderick Graham Flagg

Abstract

The academic study of stability maintenance issues has focused on two main aspects: understanding social stability in terms of an adaptable and flexible authoritarian state; and understanding the occurrence of mass incidents in terms of the emergence of an active rights consciousness among the public. However, a lack of theory regarding state-society power and empirical data on government-citizen interactions means that research into the mechanisms and impacts of stability maintenance is nowhere near adequate. Using Gramsci’s theory of hegemony and field studies of two Chinese cities, this article analyzes the micro-processes in which grassroots governments assimilate protesting workers, farmers and property owners. Three strategies that grassroots governments use to manufacture consent in day-to-day operations are identified: the normalization and conventionalization of negotiations during conflict (material concessions); designing and implementing bureaucratic tricks (procedural consent); and creating an information- and services-led government under the banner of peace and stability (moral leadership). After an in-depth analysis of the rich and vivid experiences of both government and the public during these processes, the authors find that stability maintenance involves maintaining a balance between consent and coercion – that is, stability is reached by compromise between government authority and the citizens’ rights.

Series:

Baohua Zhou

Translator Rui Zhao

Abstract

Taking the PX Incident in Xiamen as an example, this article deals with the degree and patterns of public participation in sudden public incidents, the relationship between media contact and political participation, and the correlation among media contact, political participation, and political efficacy, on the basis of an exploration of the literature, and through an empirical survey and qualitative interviews. This study finds that during the transitional period political participation in China predominately takes the form of political discussions, a “voice participation,” and that on-line participation has emerged as a major channel, but that the proportion of institutional participation is relatively low. The PX Incident in Xiamen presents the characteristics of a non-normal participation. Contact with daily news did not exercise an independent influence on it, but news attention on the incident had remarkable effects on the participation. Clear positive correlation could be shown between political participation and internal efficacy, but not between the former and external efficacy and collective efficacy.

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Zhenhui Huang

Translator Heather Mowbray

Abstract

Research into protest politics at a local level in China needs to shift focus from the question of “What weapons are used?” to the question of “Why these weapons?” A study of performative protest may well be a key to unlocking our understanding of this transitional period in grassroots politics. The continuum from performance as protest to violent social movement is the spectrum of local protest under observation here: the more individual the protest, the more performative and ritualistic it is; mass protests, in turn, tend to be more violent and substantive; political potential is the decisive factor in the effectiveness of performative protest. Performative protest has specific social foundations and opportunity mechanisms, and it is not simply a label for an interpretative mode. It comprises three specific micro-mechanisms: focusing, stirring up of emotions, and stress transference. Performative protest has given local governments a host of challenges. These have been answered with strategies comprising systemic state building, ideological strengthening, and democratization. The colorful nature of local political landscapes demonstrates the non-synchronous nature of China’s multi-dimensional social transition. Accelerating China’s transition, from a “utilitarian society” to an “ethical society,” and reshaping the foundations of social relations are essential to realizing good local governance and resolving the country’s most intractable social issues.

Series:

Jiangang Zhu and Ming Hu

Translator Heather Mowbray

Abstract

Development NGOs and social work agencies are the major non-governmental forces that actively participate in post-disaster community reconstruction, and they generally emphasize theories and strategies of participatory development and empowerment. However, in practice, this type of strategy has met with many challenges. This article analyses the course of reconstruction in B community, as observed over three consecutive years by the authors. We point out that the community is engaged in pluralistic social processes: rapid post-disaster reconstruction, rural-urban unification, and social governance reform. Having so many forces involved in all aspects of this process means that explanation falls beyond the remit of traditional community participation theory. By analyzing three drivers of post-disaster reconstruction – the local government, community residents, and development NGOs – this article shows that transitional social development requires cooperative governance relations between the backbone of community, civil society organizations, state power, and market forces. This can promote pluralistic social power structures and generate real community empowerment. At the same time, it is important that this form of empowerment should not heighten divisions between officialdom and citizens, and should not result in the reliance of residents on the local government, which would thus take on the shape of a new internal colonization, but rather should promote cooperation between people and the authorities, develop innovative ways of dealing with social issues, and put actual pluralistic governance into practice.

Series:

Shaopeng Song

Translator Matthew A. Hale

Abstract

The crackdown on prostitution in Dongguan stirred up a debate between establishment voices and extra-governmental liberals. Both parties used “sex” to discuss politics, creating a spectacle of “sex politics” that concealed the economics of sex. The sex economy is an existing reality. The capitalist mode of production has created the sex economy’s structure of supply and demand, with market ethics exempting the sex trade from moral pressures, while the principle of “separating the body from the mind” has turned the sex trade into a skilled job in which workers sell their labor-power. Proletarianized women “freely” sell their sexual labor-power, while the need for bourgeois men to construct a domineering masculinity has become the main incentive for the consumption of sex. The gender secret of capitalism is that the system inherently requires two types of sexual order: that of the market and that of the family. Each order in turn requires its own distinct sexual morality, fidelity, and freedom, but the split between these two moralities generates moral pressures targeting sex workers along with conflicts among women.