East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

April 20


Workshop on East Asia:
Politics, Economy and Society Presents

“Who’s in Charge of China’s Villages? Explaining Patterns of Authority in Rural Governance”

Travis Warner
Doctoral Student, Department of Political Science,
University of Chicago

4:00-5:30pm, Tuesday
April 20, 2010
Pick Lounge
5828 South University Ave.

Workshop website: http://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/eastasia/
Student coordinator: Jean Lin (jeanlin@uchicago.edu)
Faculty sponsors: Dali Yang, Cheol-sung Lee, Dingxin Zhao
The workshop is sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies and the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance, please contact the student coordinator in advance.

A “dual-power structure” governs the Chinese countryside.
Village branches of the Chinese Communist Party, traditionally
the centers of power in their communities, increasingly share
their authority with elected village committees. We seek to
illuminate the factors contributing to the division of
authority between these “two committees.” For the purposes of
hypothesis testing, we view party branches and village
committees as the agents of two distinct principals. Party
branches generally derive their authority from township
governments, while village committees tend to derive theirs
from the village residents who elect them. In general, we
predict that the division of authority between the two
committees varies with A) the relative levels of activism
exhibited by the principals, and B) the perceived legitimacy
of the agents, as determined by their method of selection.
Drawing on our own fieldwork and a unique dataset, we test
four hypotheses derived from this framework. Our findings
should contribute to observers’ understanding of the “exercise
of power” in China’s villages.

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