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Authors: Manfred Elfstrom and Yao Li
China has become a land of protests, though the Chinese state possesses considerable administrative capacity. In this volume, Manfred Elfstrom and Yao Li provide an overview of Chinese contentious politics. They dig deep into major forms of social conflict, explore structural explanations for why protest occurs in China, and describe the ways in which various organizations and framings of issues by citizens affect how protests play out. Shifting to where grassroots activism ultimately leads, Elfstrom and Li survey China’s coercive and conciliatory institutions for maintaining social control, document and explain patterns in the state’s handling of different types of resistance, and examine the social and political impact of unrest. This work not only contributes to a deeper understanding of contentious politics and governance in China, but also provides insights for studies of social movements and authoritarian politics in general.
Authors: Manfred Elfstrom and Yao Li

Abstract

China has become a land of social protests. Yet the Chinese state possesses considerable capacity and is rising on the world stage day by day. Why and how do Chinese people take to the streets? Where does their activism lead? This paper draws on a rich body of existing literature to provide an overview of the broad landscape of Chinese contentious politics and to dig deeper into a few common or emerging forms of social conflict. It then explores the various structural and political opportunity-based explanations for why protest occurs in China, before describing the ways in which different organizations and different framings of issues by citizens affect how protests play out. Shifting to where protests lead, the paper briefly surveys a variety of coercive and conciliatory institutions China possesses for social control and then documents distinct patterns in the state’s handling of different types of resistance—repressive, tolerant, concessionary, and mixed approaches—followed by an examination of the multifaceted impact of unrest. The conclusion offers suggestions for future researchers. Reviewing major concepts, debates, perspectives, and emerging research directions in studies of contentious politics in the world’s most populous country, this paper contributes to a more nuanced understanding of authoritarian politics and authoritarian resilience more generally.

In: Contentious Politics in China
Authors: Manfred Elfstrom and Yao Li

Abstract

China has become a land of social protests. Yet the Chinese state possesses considerable capacity and is rising on the world stage day by day. Why and how do Chinese people take to the streets? Where does their activism lead? This paper draws on a rich body of existing literature to provide an overview of the broad landscape of Chinese contentious politics and to dig deeper into a few common or emerging forms of social conflict. It then explores the various structural and political opportunity-based explanations for why protest occurs in China, before describing the ways in which different organizations and different framings of issues by citizens affect how protests play out. Shifting to where protests lead, the paper briefly surveys a variety of coercive and conciliatory institutions China possesses for social control and then documents distinct patterns in the state’s handling of different types of resistance—repressive, tolerant, concessionary, and mixed approaches—followed by an examination of the multifaceted impact of unrest. The conclusion offers suggestions for future researchers. Reviewing major concepts, debates, perspectives, and emerging research directions in studies of contentious politics in the world’s most populous country, this paper contributes to a more nuanced understanding of authoritarian politics and authoritarian resilience more generally.

In: Brill Research Perspectives in Governance and Public Policy in China