Theoretical Poverty in the Research on Chinese Civil Society*

  title={Theoretical Poverty in the Research on Chinese Civil Society*},
  author={Taru Salmenkari},
  journal={Modern Asian Studies},
  pages={682 - 711}
  • Taru Salmenkari
  • Published 9 October 2012
  • Political Science
  • Modern Asian Studies
Abstract This paper critiques current academic usage of the analytic category of ‘civil society’ in recent studies of contemporary China. The problem is not the lack of good empirical work (which abounds), but rather the way in which understandings of ‘civil society’ as applied to China have remained insulated from wider theoretical debates emerging from other parts of the world which have queried the productive utility of these understandings. Specifically, recent studies of China continue to… 
Re-theorizing civil society in China: Agency and the discursive politics of civil society engagement
Scholarship on Chinese civil society has produced rich empirical studies, but there have been few attempts to theorize the empirical knowledge acquired. Moreover, the question of how to conceptualize
Approaches to civil society in authoritarian states: The case of China
Both civil society in China and research on Chinese civil society have developed profoundly over the last three decades. Research on Chinese civil society can be classified into two categories: a
Characteristics of China’s Nongovernmental Organizations: a Critical Review
The study of the characteristics of China’s Non-governmental Organizations (CNGOs) is rooted in three approaches: the civil society approach, the corporatism approach, and the contingent approach.
Innovators and Implementers: The Multilevel Politics of Civil Society Governance in Rural China
Abstract Early literature on China's civil society focused on organizations’ autonomy from the state. However, the precise ways in which these organizations are dependent on the state – and on
Managing the dream of a green China: Chinese ENGOs’ daily practices and controversies
This research explored how Chinese environmental non-governmental organisations (ENGOs) intervene with environmental crises in an authoritarian context, drawing on the data from ten-month
Children and youth NGOs in China: Social activism between embeddedness and marginalization
The proliferation of civic groups has been one of the most intriguing features of China’s societal transformation over the past three decades. The massive spread of non-governmental organizations
Labour NGOs in China: A Real Force for Political Change?
Abstract The narrative about Chinese NGOs active in defending migrant workers' rights describes these organizations as increasingly powerful instruments through which Chinese people take part in
Is the incipient Chinese civil society playing a role in regenerating historic urban areas? Evidence from Nanjing, Suzhou and Shanghai
Abstract Urban regeneration in Western countries can count on a long-lasting tradition of experiences in which civil society has played a fundamental role in counterbalancing the system of power,
Marketization and Its Discontents: Unveiling the Impacts of Foundation-led Venture Philanthropy on Grassroots NGOs in China
Abstract Although the Chinese state has an outsized influence on shaping civil society in China, extant literature has generally overlooked the increasing role of the market in its non-governmental
State power and elite autonomy in a networked civil society: The board interlocking of Chinese non-profits
Rather than a core-periphery structure centered around government officials, the Chinese non-profit world appears to be a multipolar one of distinct elite groups, many of which achieve high levels of independence from direct government control.


Civil society and the public sphere
n the 1980s, the work of Hungarian and other Eastern European intellectuals 1 was responsible for renewed attention to one of the core concepts of modern Western history, the idea of civil society.
The Limitations of Corporatism for Understanding Reforming China: An empirical analysis in a rural county
This paper challenges the usefulness of the notion of corporatism in conceptualizing the changing state‐society relationship in China. Based on an empirical analysis of the pattern of state‐business
The 1989 Democracy Movement: A Review of the Prospects for Civil Society in China
T HE 1989 Chinese Democracy Movement is best understood as the Iexpression of a fundamental conflict between a state with totalitarian intentions and an emerging civil society. We will build this
Civil society and democracy in the third world: Ambiguities and historical possibilities
The terminology of “civil society” has gained currency in recent discussions of democratic movements around the globe. Although less grandiose in its implications than claims about the “end of
Civil society and democracy
There has been much interest in the concept and idea of ‘civil society’ among academics in ‘the west’, in recent years. During the past quarter century a plethora of books and articles have been
The emergence of NGOs in China and their transnational linkages: implications for domestic reform
In addressing the question of how China's rapid socioeconomic transformation is changing the nature of its international engagement we need to move beyond a traditional focus on state-centric
Civil society and min-jian: on political society and popular democracy
Arguing for the necessity of multiplying and shifting the existing reference points in the critical work of cultural studies, this paper attempts to demonstrate what can be gained from a different
The Western Concept of the Civil Society in the Context of Chinese History
  • 2004
The Western term "civil society" has become prominent in current Western and Chinese discussions regarding China's history and possible democratization. There is a complicated relation, however,
Who needs civil society
‘Civil society’ has become a popular concept in both the analysis of the social bases of recent political change in Africa, and in external policy support for processes of liberal democratic
China, Corporatism, and the East Asian Model
  • J. Unger, A. Chan
  • Political Science
    The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs
  • 1995
The social-science paradigms that China scholars employed in former decades do not adequately fit China as of the 1990s. Western scholars today find themselves struggling to reconceptualize the