The limits of authoritarian rule: Policy making and deliberation in urban village regeneration in China

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9 Citations (Scopus)


The subject of this paper is the role of democratic deliberation as a policy instrument for district and local administrations in the urban village regeneration process. This paper contributes to a better understanding of the relationship between democratic deliberation and public policy making, and the theory of deliberative systems. Deliberation in the context of urban village regeneration is part of a complex, scalar, political-administrative system, with many actors whose activities are often not aligned. Although this configuration has authoritarian traits and operates largely without the protection of a strong and well-functioning rule of law, it is not all-sovereign. In fact, one of the most fascinating aspects of urban village deliberation is the way that reveals the limits of authoritarian rule in a modern national and international context. As we show, the Party encounters the same problems of technical, social, and institutional complexity, with the ensuing limits on vertical steering, as administrations in democratic countries. Using the case of Q village, we describe how hierarchical project management sits uneasily with village deliberation throughout the process. When officials attempt to curtail the legally mandated village deliberation process, they encounter stiff resistance and even a participation strike.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)678-693
Number of pages16
JournalJapanese Journal of Political Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


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