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Civil society, corporatism and capitalism in China

Howell, Jude (2012) Civil society, corporatism and capitalism in China. Journal of Comparative Asian Development, 11 (2). pp. 271-297. ISSN 1533-9114

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Identification Number: 10.1080/15339114.2012.711550


This article examines the dual logic of the market and state in shaping the trajectory of civil society in China. Specifically, it argues first that the central and local governments' strategy of control and engagement of civil society is fuelled by the inter-related drive to maintain political stability and promote capitalist development. Second, it suggests that a corporatist framework of analysis is inadequate for understanding the dynamics of associational life in China on several grounds. These include the narrower subject of inquiry addressed by corporatist theory, the assumption that interests are properly represented and the dysfunctionality of the actually existing corporatist framework. Third, it argues that at a broader theoretical level, the dominance of this debate between civil society and corporatism leads to an overemphasis on the state at the expense of the market imperative, thus shaping in turn the direction and substance of studies of state–society relations in China. The article then explores how the dual pressures of state and market generate incremental cycles of civil society development in the reform period, noting the gradual development of associations linked to interests that benefit from the turn to capitalism, the emergence of non-governmental labour organizations and the rise of social welfare organizations. In conclusion the article calls for bringing capitalism back into the study of civil society in China.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 Taylor & Francis
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2012 12:15
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2023 08:42

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