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Capitalism without Democracy: The Private Sector in Contemporary China 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0801473265
ISBN-10: 0801473268
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Kellee S. Tsai's exciting new book challenges the conventional wisdom about the role that entrepreneurs play in a reforming authoritarian state. Burrowing deeply into the informal practices of Chinese capitalists, Tsai questions mechanical, agent-less theories of democratization and reminds us that a term like 'middle class' obscures as much as it explains. With this book, Tsai takes her place at the forefront of those who study the relationship between marketization and democracy."―Kevin J. O'Brien, University of California, Berkeley



"In this very well-written and richly detailed book, Kellee S. Tsai offers a convincing critique of the common perception that privatization is leading to democratization in China. It should be widely read in the academic and policy communities."―Bruce J. Dickson, The George Washington University



"China may not be about to democratize, but―according to Kellee S. Tsai's impressive book―it is nevertheless experiencing significant political change. In showing how Chinese private entrepreneurs, through 'adaptive informal institutions,' have promoted fundamental ideological and institutional transformation, Tsai makes an important contribution both to our understanding of contemporary Chinese political economy and to larger comparative debates."―Elizabeth J. Perry, Henry Rosovsky Professor of Government, Harvard University



"In Capitalism without Democracy, Kellee S. Tsai offers a compelling idea―that the bourgeoisie does not necessarily become the standard-bearer of democracy, and shown this in a country where many people expect that it will. She has also theorized a phenomenon long recognized but not explicated in Chinese politics―that of the impact of local, informal politics on formal political institutions and policy, and has used her theory to deal with major puzzles. Her admirably grounded models of regional diversity inside China should also have broader applicability."―Dorothy J. Solinger, University of California, Irvine

From the Back Cover

"In Capitalism without Democracy, Kellee S. Tsai argues that China's entrepreneurs are unlikely by themselves to push for democratic change. In this very well-written and richly detailed book, Tsai offers a convincing critique of the common perception that privatization is leading to democratization in China. It should be widely read in the academic and policy communities"-Bruce J. Dickson, The George Washington University

"Kellee Tsai's exciting new book challenges the conventional wisdom about the role that entrepreneurs play in a reforming authoritarian state. Burrowing deeply into the informal practices of Chinese capitalists, Tsai questions mechanical, agent-less theories of democratization and reminds us that a term like 'middle class' obscures as much as it explains. With this book, Tsai takes her place at the forefront of those who study the relationship between marketization and democracy."--Kevin J. O'Brien, Bedford Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley, coauthor of Rightful Resistance in Rural China

"China may not be about to democratize, but--according to Kellee Tsai's impressive book--it is nevertheless experiencing significant political change. In showing how Chinese private entrepreneurs, through 'adaptive informal institutions,' have promoted fundamental ideological and institutional transformation, Tsai makes an important contribution both to our understanding of contemporary Chinese political economy and to larger comparative debates."--Elizabeth J. Perry, Henry Rosovsky Professor of Government, Harvard University --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1 edition (August 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801473268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801473265
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #852,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The book refutes the prevailing modernization theory that capitalism can lead to democracy. Findings from the study of private entrepreneurs in different regions in China supports Professor Tsai's proposition that the relationship between economic liberalism and political freedom is not definitely correlated.

Putting it in a nutshell, this book has contributed to three major findings in the study of political economy in China. First, economic liberalization in China since 1976 has not resulted in the emergence of democratic regime or the decline of the authoritarian state. According to Professor Tsai, private entrepreneurs in China are not nuts about democracy and researchers cannot view private entrepreneurs as a homogeneous class because of their diverse identities, interests, and values in politics. Second, widespread apathy amongst private entrepreneurs in China towards democracy does not mean that they have an acquiescent nature. They tend to adopt different coping strategies rather than instigate virulent opposition against the regime or demand regime transition when various formal institutions constrain their business activities. The so-called "coping strategies" result in a variety of "adaptive informal institutions" being established in different economic regions in China. Based on hundreds of in-depth interviews and nationwide survey of private entrepreneurs, Professor Tsai divides them into five key types; namely Wenzhou model, Sunan model, Zhujiang model, state-dominated model, and Limited development model. For instance, private entrepreneurs in Wenzhou engaged in a variety of innovative financing practices to set up and expand their businesses which were outside of the state banking system.
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Format: Paperback
Conventional wisdom says that China's economic revival will eventually lead to democracy. Others see the rise of income inequality and increased corruption as rallying points. However, don't expect a "No taxation without representation" protest in China, says Tsai. The bulk of the book relies on over 300 interviews with Chinese entrepreneurs (peddlers to CEOs on the Forbes list of the wealthiest in the world), officials, intellectuals, and local bureaucrats over the 2001-2005.

Some of the outside hope for democracy is based on stores of private entrepreneurs helping out demonstrators at Tienanmen Square. Those instances, however, haven't grown or been sustained. Tsai believes that because Chinese entrepreneurs are such a diverse group (some were former farmers, others previously government officials) they will not likely unite on this issue. Further, they have proven much more likely to use informal channels for solving problems than the legal system or political participation. Only 5% regularly rely on more assertive modes of dispute resolution such as "appealing to local government or higher authorities" or "appealing through judicial courts."

Capitalists are now encouraged to join the CCP, and many have. Flexibility to overlook rules also relieves potential pressure for change from business people. Those with the resources to fund change, China's 106 billionaires, are diversifying overseas with both their investments and children's' education - eg. sending them to the U.S. with hopes that they will become white-collar professionals or government officials rather than continuing the family work as business owners.

The only movement that posed a potentially serious challenge to the regime was the short-lived China Democracy Party (CDP).
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I haven't read such a good book in quite a while. It is truly different from those academic books that either create jargon or randomly run some irrelevant regressions. This book is based on truly solid field research and surveys.
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