Supervising Authoritarian Rule Online: Citizen Participation and State Responses in China
The Journal of Comparative Law 12:2 (2017), 397-416
25 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2018
This essay examines citizen participation in and state responses to online supervision in China. It argues that the internet has only empowered Chinese citizens in selective ways by enabling them more to expose individual cases of corruption and official misconduct than to pursue systematic changes. Such ‘selective-empowerment’ effects allow the state to differentiate its responses, eliminating more threatening forms of citizen activism while bringing less threatening forms under control. Such a ‘selective-empowerment and differentiated-response’ model helps explain why the authoritarian state can preserve its power in setting the agenda, means, and goals of online supervision despite the empowering effects of the internet.
Keywords: Online Public Supervision, Anti-Corruption, Technological Empowerment, Authoritarian Resilience, China, Xi Jinping
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