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Social Organizations and the Authoritarian State in China

by Timothy Hildebrandt

Received wisdom suggests that social organizations (such as non-government organizations, NGOs) have the power to upend the political status quo. However, in many authoritarian contexts, such as China, NGO emergence has not resulted in this expected regime change. In this book, Timothy Hildebrandt shows how NGOs adapt to the changing interests of central and local governments, working in service of the state to address social problems. In doing so, the nature of NGO emergence in China effectively strengthens the state, rather than weakens it. This book offers a groundbreaking comparative analysis of Chinese social organizations across the country in three different issue areas: environmental protection, HIV/AIDS prevention, and gay and lesbian rights. It suggests a new way of thinking about state-society relations in authoritarian countries, one that is distinctly co-dependent in nature: governments require the assistance of NGOs to govern while NGOs need governments to extend political, economic, and personal opportunities to exist.

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