Deliberative Democracy at China’s Grassroots: Case Studies of a Hidden Phenomenon

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Journal Article
Politics and Society, 2014, 42 (4), pp. 513 - 535
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© 2014 SAGE Publications. Dictatorial China contains vivid examples of grassroots deliberative democracy on issues vital to local participants. Three elements in our case studies are relevant to programs of deliberative, participatory decision making elsewhere in the world. First, the Chinese examples have all occurred within longstanding communities. Second, the members of these communities have faced concrete issues of a type they felt they had the knowledge to resolve. And third, all of these communities had access to institutional frameworks established from above that the local populace could utilize as deliberative forums. In addition, a more distinctively Chinese factor was observed in two of our case studies: collective decisions were arrived at based on “moral economy” beliefs rooted in China’s socialist past.
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