Gauging Preference Stability and Ideological Constraint under Authoritarian Rule

49 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2020

See all articles by Jennifer Pan

Jennifer Pan

Stanford University

Yiqing Xu

Stanford University

Date Written: August 24, 2020

Abstract

Why do authoritarian regimes like China devote resources to gathering information about the policy preferences of the public? We argue that if the public exhibits stable, multi-dimensional preferences, authoritarian regimes have incentives to gather information about these preferences in order to divide and rule and guard against elite competition. By conducting two online, longitudinal surveys, we show that in China, policy preferences are indeed multi-dimensional, stable, and predictable over time. We use multiple items to measure preferences in six policy domains: political liberalism, market economy, nationalism, traditionalism, social equality, and ethnic accommodation. We observe only moderate correlations between political liberalism, market economy, nationalism, and traditionalism, which implies multi-dimensionality. Preferences for all issue areas except social equality exhibit relatively high levels of inter-temporal stability and predictability over a one-month period comparable to what is seen in competitive electoral democracies. Those with higher levels of education and political knowledge have more stable preferences. We provide guidance on how to measure these relatively coherent and temporally stable preferences, or ideology, using surveys.

Keywords: China, Policy Preferences, Ideology, Regime Support, Political Participation, Survey Methods

Suggested Citation

Pan, Jennifer and Xu, Yiqing, Gauging Preference Stability and Ideological Constraint under Authoritarian Rule (August 24, 2020). 21st Century China Center Research Paper , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3679076 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3679076

Jennifer Pan

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Yiqing Xu (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

HOME PAGE: http://yiqingxu.org

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
345
Abstract Views
1,216
rank
104,855
PlumX Metrics