Chinese Social Organizations
Growth and Change during the
Reform Era
Social Org./ Civic Associations
• Why are they important?
– Their role in liberal democracies:
• interest aggregation
• interest articulation
• foster civic skills
• facilitate political participation
• …
Interest Articulation
• Every political system has some way for
people and social groups to express their
needs and demands to the government.
• Interest articulation can take many forms.
• In large, established political systems,
formal interest groups are a primary
means of promoting political interests.
Interest Groups
• Interest articulation can occur through the
actions of social or political groups that
represent a set of people.
• Some groups are poorly organized and
unfocused, and often short-lived.
• Other groups have a permanent
organizational base, often with
professional staffs to provide expertise.
Associational Groups
• A special subset of associational groups
consists of citizens who are united not by
a common economic or individual selfinterest but by a common belief in a
political ideology or a policy goal.
• The environmental movement, many
women's groups, and other civic groups
are examples of this kind of associations.
Civic Associations
• Civic associations represent another way
for citizens to articulate their policy goals
by supporting groups that advocate their
preferred policy positions.
• Such groups have proliferated in most
advanced industrial democracies in the
past generation, and they are now
spreading to the developing world.
Civil Society
• A society in which people are involved in
social and political interactions free of
state control or regulation.
• Participation in associational and
institutional groups can socialize
individuals into the political skills and
cooperative relations that are part of a
well-functioning society.
Controlled Interest Group Syst.
• There is a single group for each social
sector.
• Membership is often compulsory.
• Each group is normally hierarchically
organized.
• Groups are controlled by the government
or its agents in order to mobilize support
for government policy.
Controlled Interest Group Syst.
• Groups exist to facilitate government
control of society.
• In the traditional communist systems, the
party penetrates all levels of society and
controls all the permitted associational
groups.
• Unions and other interest associations are
subordinated to the Communist Party.
Interest Articulation in China
• Most ordinary citizens engage in interest
articulation without interest aggregation.
• This takes the form of personal contacts to
articulate individual concerns about the
effects of policies on their lives.
• Much of this interest articulation takes
place at the workplace.
Interest Aggregation
• For the most part, the function of interest
aggregation is monopolized by the
Communist Party
• The party's role in interest aggregation is
being diluted and the methods it employs
have also evolved.
During Cultural Revolution
• 1966-69, citizens were allowed to form
political organizations outside of the
Communist Party
• Characterized by political struggle,
disorder, and violence
"Satellite Parties"
• Under the formal leadership of the
Communist Party are eight "satellite
parties," a legacy of the communist pre1949 strategy of provisional cooperation
with noncommunist democratic parties.
• These parties have no real role in
policymaking, but they are represented in
the Chinese People's Political Consultative
Conference.
Mass Organizations
• The other older formal organizations that
aggregate like interests in the Chinese
political system are the "mass
organizations."
• They are extensions of the Communist
Party into society, nationwide in scope and
organized hierarchically.
Mass Organizations
• The All-China Federation of Trade Unions
and the Women's Federation remain
active and important mass organizations
today.
• Mass organizations are led by Communist
Party officials, who are specially assigned
to these positions and who take direction
from party committees.
Mass Organizations
• The main function of these organizations
is not to aggregate and represent group
interests for consideration in the
policymaking process, but to facilitate
propagation of party policy to the relevant
groups.
• Essentially, mass organizations represent
the interests of the Communist Party to the
organized "interest groups" it dominates.
Mass Organizations
• The classic description of this relationship
refers to mass organizations as
“transmission belts” for the Communist
Party.
– bi-directional "transmission belts"?
• Mao Zedong’s “mass line”
– loyally carrying out Party lines and policies
– feed back information from the masses
Mass Organizations
• nearly 200 national mass organizations
are fully funded and staffed by the
government
• All-China Federation of Trade Unions
– 226 million members in 2009
– organized by work units
• All-China Women’s Federation
– organized by administrative or work units
Social Organizations since 1979
• NGOs and government-organized NGOs
Social Organizations
• A very different set of associations
emerged in the late 1980s with official
encouragement.
• These "social organizations" range widely
in form and focus.
• In form, they include genuine NGOs and
government-organized NGOs.
Government-Organized NGOs
• Among the most interesting GONGOs are
the business associations set up to
organize firms
– Self-Employed Laborers Association
– Private Enterprises Association
– Federation of Industry and Commerce
• The Federation of Industry and Commerce
organizes the largest Chinese firms.
N.G.O.
• Among NGOs, the 250 organizations that
focus on environmental issues are at the
vanguard of NGO activity.
• The largest, best funded, and best
organized environmental NGOs focus
primarily on species and nature
conservation and environmental
education.
Social Organizations
• Relationship with the state
extension
corporatism
close
semi-official
distant
semi-civil
autonomous
civil society
Social Organizations
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Chinese Social Organizations