Political Sociologist Explores Foundations of Chinese State Legitimacy2018-04-16

Political Sociologist Explores Foundations

of Chinese State Legitimacy in New Book


NTU Press teamed up with the Harvard-Yenching Institute to publish the book Politics of Legitimacy: The State-Society Relations in Contemporary China in December 2017. The book is the third book to be released as part of the National Taiwan University and Harvard-Yenching Institute Academic Book Series.
Written in Mandarin Chinese and authored by political sociologist Dingxin Zhao, the book is a compilation of essays addressing the basis of state legitimacy and state-society relations written over the last two-plus decades.
Zhao is the Max Palevsky Professor of the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago and a professor at Zhejiang University in China. His research interests lie in the areas of political sociology, social movements, and comparative historical sociology.
The author argues that the basis of the legitimacy of state power can only be established in three ideal-typical ways: ideological legitimacy, procedural legitimacy, and performance legitimacy. Zhao's theory holds that different foundations of state legitimacy lead the public to form different political cognition models and behavioral characteristics.
In the book, Zhao applies his theory to analyze various aspects of contemporary Chinese politics. Among the issues he addresses are: Why did the Cultural Revolution initiated by Mao Zedong end in violence and factional politics? Why was it difficult for nationalist movements to develop in the China of the Deng Xiaoping era? Why was the 1989 student pro-democracy movement dispatched through violent repression? Why has performance legitimacy always occupied a highly important position in both the traditional and modern politics of China? What are the key reasons for the soaring economic development of China over the last few decades? Why, despite its excellent economic performance, have political tensions increased in China? Why do the Chinese mass media and social media display strong anti-establishment tendencies while the official media have difficulty formingChinese public opinion? What are the potentials and limits for developing democratic institutions in contemporary society?
The articles compiled in the book comprise a broad analysis of many aspects of Chinese society since the reforms and opening initiated by Deng at the end of the 1970s. Taken as a whole, the articles not only provide a compelling account of the nature of the state and the current status of state-society relations in contemporary China, they also offer specific insights into the current state of world affairs.