Studying Chinese Politics in an Age of Specialization

Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 20, No. 71, pp. 535-541, September 2011

17 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2010 Last revised: 25 Aug 2011

See all articles by Kevin J. O'Brien

Kevin J. O'Brien

University of California, Berkeley - Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 26, 2010

Abstract

The relationship between area studies and political science remains fraught with tradeoffs. In particular, a danger exists that the field of Chinese politics is being hollowed out because a) there are islands of highly specialized research with few bridges between them, and b) more and more Chinese politics scholars are engaged in debates in which the "other side" is no longer a China scholar but instead a colleague in the discipline. At a time when China's economic growth and prominence in world affairs have generated remarkable interest inside and outside the academy, few scholars are willing to take a stab at characterizing the polity or addressing other, equally large questions. Further thought is needed about the "terms of enlistment" for China scholars in political science, in an era when ever more-focused studies and greater participation in disciplinary debates have become the norm.

Keywords: China, Politics, Area Studies, Disciplinary Debates, Specialization

JEL Classification: O53, P30

Suggested Citation

O'Brien, Kevin J., Studying Chinese Politics in an Age of Specialization (February 26, 2010). Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 20, No. 71, pp. 535-541, September 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1559932

Kevin J. O'Brien (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science ( email )

210 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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