Reassessing collective petitioning in rural China: Civic engagement, extra-state violence, and regional variation

William Hurst, Mingxing Liu, Yongdong Liu, Ran Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


Based on our analysis of a survey of 120 villages across six Chinese provinces, as well as more than one hundred in-depth interviews across these same regions, we found two distinct pathways to local political stability. A "virtuous path," based on civic participation and engagement, in which autonomous or quasi-independent organizations play important roles in collective action and promoting good governance, appears robust. However, it is also clearly bounded by region, effective only in parts of Fujian province. A more sinister path, based on a parasitic and violent co-dependency of local states and crime syndicates-what we have termed insidious symbiosis-seems more widespread across other regions. This contrast carries broad implications for the study of China, subnational governance, and politics of contention more generally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-478
Number of pages20
JournalComparative Politics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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