Incremental democratization with Chinese characteristics

Liang, Ziting (2011). Incremental democratization with Chinese characteristics. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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This thesis is centrally concerned with the ‘democratic debate’ and assessing the prospects for democratic transition in contemporary China. The first part of the thesis (including Chapters 1 and 2) reviews the (primarily) Western academic literature on democracy and democratisation. It is argued that while this literature is useful-up to a point-in understanding how the debate of democratisation is unfolding in China, and the processes that are generating political reforms and other changes that are conducive to democracy, it has wholly neglected the specificity of the Chinese case. The third chapter of the thesis duly embarks on a discussion of both the history of debate and discussion in China historically, arguing that this debate and discussion has to be understood in the context of Chinese history and culture specifically. This chapter identifies two strands of thought about democracy among academic commentators in China: first those who foresee a swift transition to democracy and the ‘gradualists’, who are primarily concerned with how problems of attendant social and political instability will impact on the prospects for democratisation. The second half of the thesis assesses the impact of Chinese economic reforms since the late 1970s, along with contemporary globalization and China’s growing integration into the global economy on the trajectory of political change in China. It explores important political changes within the regime, the emerging civil society forces, focusing specifically on changing state-society relations evidenced in growing village autonomy, changes in press media, and in other areas. The thesis combines the technique of discourse analysis (‘reading’ and analysing the changing discourse among state and civil society actors, including official political documents and speeches; and media -television and newspapers- and NGO sources) with an assessment of institutional changes within the party (elite), changes in power structures (the limited diffusion of power to civil society through electoral reform and changes in media operation and control), and changing state-society relations.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia


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