Ideological Reform and Political Legitimacy in China: Challenges in the Post-Jiang Era
GIGA Working Paper No 18
36 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2006 Last revised: 16 Aug 2012
Date Written: March 1, 2006
As a Socialist country undergoing rapid social and economic transition, China presents a revealing case study on the role of ideology in the process of institutional change. Based on Douglass North's theory of institutional change and on David Beetham's theory of political legitimation, this paper argues that recent ideological reforms have been a crucial factor in sustaining the legitimacy of Communist party rule. Ideological change is conceived as a path-dependent process which helps to stabilize the social perception of transition and to frame the party's modernization achievements. At the same time, the dominant role of ideology makes the Chinese party-state, despite its economic success, more vulnerable to legitimacy crises compared to other authoritarian regimes.
Keywords: Institutional change, political legitimacy, ideology, Socialism, Communism, China
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