60 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2014 Last revised: 19 Aug 2015
Date Written: August 18, 2015
Given widespread perceptions of risk and uncertainty in nondemocratic systems and developing democracies, why do some citizens still take action and make complaints to authorities? The resource mobilization model identifies the importance of time, money, and civic skills as resources that are necessary for participation. In this paper we build on this model and argue that political connections – close personal ties to someone working in government – can also constitute a critical resource, especially in contexts with weak democratic institutions. Using data from both urban and rural China, we find that individuals with political connections are more likely to contact authorities with complaints about government public services, despite the fact that they do not have higher levels of dissatisfaction with public service provision. We conduct various robustness checks, including a sensitivity analysis, and show that this relationship is unlikely to be driven by an incorrect model specification or unobserved confounding variables.
Keywords: authoritarianism, mobilization, complaint making, resource model, state-society relations, political connections, political participation
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Tsai, Lily and Xu, Yiqing, Outspoken Insiders: Political Connections and Citizen Participation in Authoritarian China (August 18, 2015). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2014-16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2480611
By Yiqing Xu