Why Does a One-Party Regime Promote Civil Society? The Case of China's Homeowner Associations

54 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2021

See all articles by Yu Zeng

Yu Zeng

Peking University

Junyan Jiang

Columbia University

Jie Li

University of Vienna

Christian Göbel

University of Vienna

Date Written: November 6, 2021

Abstract

Conventional wisdom holds that one-party regimes are intrinsically hostile to civil society because organized citizens can threaten the regime's political dominance. Contrary to this view, we argue that autocracies may tolerate, and sometimes even actively promote, genuinely voluntary civil groups when those groups can help the state efficiently resolve intra-societal distributional conflicts arising from economic modernization. Using China’s homeowner associations as a case, we demonstrate that local governments are more likely to promulgate policies that encourage the development of self-organized homeowner associations when citizens frequently call upon the authorities to intervene and adjudicate their disputes with property development and management companies. Additional analyses, including an instrumental variables estimation, suggest that the relationship is likely to be causal. These findings highlight the competitive aspect of civil society organizations and offer a more nuanced interpretation of their possible linkages with the political authority.

Keywords: civil society, one-party regime, intra-societal conflict, homeowner association, China

Suggested Citation

Zeng, Yu and Jiang, Junyan and Li, Jie and Göbel, Christian, Why Does a One-Party Regime Promote Civil Society? The Case of China's Homeowner Associations (November 6, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3957663 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3957663

Yu Zeng

Peking University ( email )

5 Yiheyuan Road
Haidian District
Beijing, Beijing 100871
China

Junyan Jiang (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

7th Floor, International Affairs Bldg.
420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Jie Li

University of Vienna ( email )

Universitätsring 1
Vienna, 1010
Austria

Christian Göbel

University of Vienna ( email )

Vienna
Austria

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