Growing protests in non-democratic countries are often seen as signals of regime decline. China, however, has remained stable amid surging protests. Playing by the Informal Rules highlights the importance of informal norms in structuring state-protester interactions, mitigating conflict, and explaining regime resilience. Drawing on a nationwide dataset of protest and multi-sited ethnographic research, this book presents a bird's-eye view of Chinese contentious politics and illustrates the uneven application of informal norms across regions, social groups, and time. Through examinations of protests and their distinct implications for regime stability, Li offers a novel theoretical framework suitable for monitoring the trajectory of political contention in China and beyond. Overall, this study sheds new light on political mobilization and authoritarian resilience and provides fresh perspectives on power, rules, legitimacy, and resistance in modern societies.
About the Author
Yao Li is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University's Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology at The Johns Hopkins University and was a Lecturer in the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Kansas. She was named an Exemplary Diversity Scholar by the University of Michigan's National Center for Institutional Diversity in 2015.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: rising protests and regime stability; 2. Mapping the space for protest; 3. Accommodating informal norms in regime-engaging protests; 4. Unequal application of accommodating informal norms: inequality in protest space; 5. Antagonistic informal norms in regime-threatening protests; 6. Conclusion; Appendix I; Appendix II; References; Index.