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Towards a command civil society? China’s Xi-Era rules on social organising

Snape, Holly, Wang, Weinan (2023) Towards a command civil society? China’s Xi-Era rules on social organising. Made in China Journal, 8 (1). pp. 138-151. ISSN 2652-6352. E-ISSN 2206-9119. (doi:10.22459/MIC.08.01.2023.17) (KAR id:103905)


The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) rule system, the state’s legal and regulatory systems, and social norms and customs all contribute to shaping policy systems in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). So too does the interplay between them. Yet the commonplace state–society analytical lens obfuscates the distinct relationships between the Party and its state and society—a weakness notable in analysis of the institutional environment for social organizing. This paper posits that in a single-party system, the ruling party may have a role distinct to that of its state. It adopts a historically informed ‘multi-rule-systems’ approach to examine changes and continuities in the PRC’s institutional environment for social organizing under Xi Jinping as compared with the first thirty years of ‘reform and opening.’ It argues that the CCP is attempting to develop a command civil society: seeking to suck away space for organizing outside of planning and regulation; and to build a social organizational infrastructure that works reliably in the service of Party preferences. In attempting to do so, the Party is heavily reliant on its state, hence, to capture the ‘full’ picture requires attention to the interplay between multiple rules systems.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.22459/MIC.08.01.2023.17
Uncontrolled keywords: Chinese Communist Party; civil society; illegal social organizations; party documents; ‘multi-rule-systems’
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > HV27 Philanthropists
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Utopias. Anarchism
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Weinan Wang
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2023 12:18 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2024 20:39 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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