A Middle Class Without Democracy: Economic Growth and the Prospects for Democratization in China

A Middle Class Without Democracy: Economic Growth and the Prospects for Democratization in China

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by Jie Chen
     
 

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What kind of role can the middle class play in potential democratization in such an undemocratic, late developing country as China? To answer this profound political as well as theoretical question, Jie Chen explores attitudinal and behavioral orientation of China's new middle class to democracy and democratization. Chen's work is based on a unique set of data

Overview

What kind of role can the middle class play in potential democratization in such an undemocratic, late developing country as China? To answer this profound political as well as theoretical question, Jie Chen explores attitudinal and behavioral orientation of China's new middle class to democracy and democratization. Chen's work is based on a unique set of data collected from a probability-sample survey and in-depth interviews of residents in three major Chinese cities, Beijing, Chengdu and Xi'an—each of which represents a distinct level of economic development in urban China-in 2007 and 2008. The empirical findings derived from this data set confirm that (1) compared to other social classes, particularly lower classes, the new Chinese middle class-especially those employed in the state apparatus-tends to be more supportive of the current Party-state but less supportive of democratic values and institutions; (2) the new middle class's attitudes toward democracy may be accounted for by this class's close ideational and institutional ties with the state, and its perceived socioeconomic wellbeing, among other factors; (3) the lack of support for democracy among the middle class tends to cause this social class to act in favor of the current state but in opposition to democratic changes.

The most important political implication is that while China's middle class is not likely to serve as the harbinger of democracy now, its current attitudes toward democracy may change in the future. Such a crucial shift in the middle class's orientation toward democracy can take place, especially when its dependence on the Party-state decreases and perception of its own social and economic statuses turns pessimistic. The key theoretical implication from the findings suggests that the attitudinal and behavioral orientations of the middle class-as a whole and as a part-toward democratic change in late developing countries are contingent upon its with the incumbent state and its perceived social/economic wellbeing, and the middle class's support for democracy in these countries is far from inevitable.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Jie Chen is correct that no topic is more central for the future of US-China relations than understanding the political values and behaviors of the rising generation of college educated professionals and managers. Using extensive survey and interview data from three of China's most important cities, Chen successfully explains the challenges and consequences of engaging this group of 'contingent democratic supporters' into the next phase of China's economic and political transformations." -Deborah Davis, Yale University

"This arresting study provides a firm analytical foundation for assessing the chances of leadership by China's emergent middle class in any coming regime shift toward democratization. Chen ingeniously draws on his own probing surveys in three major Chinese cities, and, on the basis of telling distinctions that he establishes between the middle and the lower classes and between state-employed and non-state-employed middle class segments, he is able to answer crucial queries about the circumstances under which, and the likely possibilities for, a critical shift in the stance of this pivotal group in the near term. Everything hinges on the nature of the class's current linkage with and stance toward the state and factors that might alter that. A must-read for anyone concerned about China's political future." -Dorothy Solinger, University of California, Irvine

"We learn from this book not just why China's middle class supports the communist regime but also how this could change if its prospects worsen or its ties to the state weaken. This will be mandatory reading in Beijing, and should be elsewhere." - Bruce Gilley, Mark O. Hatfield School of Government, Portland State University and author of China's Democratic Future: How It Will Happen and Where It Will Lead

"Does China's growing middle class represent a catalyst for democracy? Based on probability sampling of three cities and extensive field research, Jie Chen shows us why the expectations of modernization theory are not borne out by China's experience." -Kellee S. Tsai, Professor of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University and author of Capitalism without Democracy: The Private Sector in Contemporary China

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199841639
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
04/16/2013
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Jie Chen is William Borah Distinguished Professor of Political Science, serves as Dean of the College of Graduate Studies at University of Idaho. He also holds the titles of the Changjiang Scholar Chair Professorship and Zhiyuan Chair Professorship bestowed, respectively, by the Ministry of Education, PRC, and by Shanghai Jiaotong University, China. He has authored and co-authored six books, including Popular Political Support in Urban China (Stanford University Press, 2004), and Allies of the State: China's Private Entrepreneurs and Democratic Change (with Bruce Dickson; Harvard University Press, 2010), and many articles, which appeared in scholarly journals, such as Journal of Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Public Opinion Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, Political Research Quarterly, the China Quarterly, Asian Survey, Modern China, and Journal of Contemporary China.

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A Middle Class Without Democracy: Economic Growth and the Prospects for Democratization in China 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in quietly
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rolls eyes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why are younglings so imature.*gose to leave*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An excellent book, which is a must read for everyine who is interested in China!