Associations in a Bind: The Emergence of Political Corporatism

M.E. Sharpe
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Associations and the Chinese State: Contested Spaces`, 2008, 1, pp. 48 - 68
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During the 1980s, as the Chinese state moved to free up the economy and to relax direct Party controls over society, it needed mechanisms to bridge the gaps in control that were created. As noted in the preceding chapter, very large numbers of associations were accordingly established, usually on the governments own initiative, to serve as intermediaries between the state and diverse constituencies and spheres of activity. This range from associations for different sectors of the economy, to science and technology associations, religious councils, cultural and social welfare groups, and sports associations: the numbers and range keep growing. It is important to note that all of these so-called nongovernmental associations (minjian xiehui) must be officially registered, and that only one organization is recognized as the representative for each sectoral constituency. It is a mechanism for governing that is not unique to China. Political scientists refer to it as corporatism.
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