Analysis in Limbo: Contemporary Chinese Politics Amid the Maturation of Reform

Lowell Dittmer*, William Hurst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Chinese economic and political development have forged ahead "from stone to stone in crossing the river," increasingly aleatory in its progress as it moves into deeper waters. We contend in this essay that the analysis of Chinese politics has so too fallen into a sort of limbo. There is no longer a "key link" - such as Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, politics in command, or class struggle - to explain the movement's direction. Despite the resurgent vitality of the transformation overtaking the country, the precise source and thrust of that dynamism has diversified and become far less obvious. The field of Chinese political analysis has changed and grown as China has changed and grown, becoming increasingly polycentric, ambiguous, and sophisticated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-48
Number of pages38
JournalIssues and Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2002


  • China
  • Levels of analysis
  • Political science
  • Politics
  • Reform
  • State of the field
  • State-society relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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