Legitimacy In China Literature Review

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Legitimacy in authoritarian regimes is often explained merely through the economic performance of the country: economic growth is deemed to be the main basis for legitimacy. This is arguably an oversimplification of the issue of legitimacy in authoritarian countries, like China. China, in fact, has been the object of debate and research regarding the ways the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) manages to hold its grip on power. Scholars have therefore challenged the equation “legitimacy=economic growth” by adding other elements to the formula and presenting new methodologies to research legitimacy in China. This literature review gives an overview of the debates on how to measure legitimacy and the strategies the CCP uses to build support. The last…show more content…
The stress on the Party’s discourse, made by Sandby-Thomas, fails to take into account that the populace is aware of the attempts by the CCP to manipulate the discourse and does not completely trust the government (594). Schubert accepts the critique that partial legitimacies cannot be summed to obtain the overall legitimacy. However, even though Sandby-Thomas is aware that using legitimation runs the risk of being too focused on the elites, he presents in its article a discourse analysis of articles from the People’s Daily in order to assess their legitimating role. This strategy is seen as too “top-down” and not very successful by Schubert. Schubert (2014) recognizes the importance of the attempts by the regime to produce legitimating discourse (597), however he finds problems with the use of legitimization: this methodology is rather detached from the public, whose attitudes and opinions, researched through an empirical approach, are judged to be more revealing than a discourse analysis…show more content…
In their article, they consider the cultural production during the aftermath of the Sichuan Earthquake and how a national disaster was used by the CCP to increase its political legitimacy. The strategy of the CCP was not utilizing direct propaganda (638), but using cultural artifacts produced by a complex relation between cultural producers and the government. In this case the CCP made use of an indirect “control of symbols” (641), with the aim of creating a sense of unity (649) by highlighting the promptly response of the government and the shows of solidarity of the general population (645-46). So, in present China, the CCP does not make use of straightforward propaganda, but there is a cooperation with cultural industries in order to spread more effectively certain meanings around the disaster

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