J OF CHIN POLIT SCI (2018) 23:137–138 https://doi.org/10.1007/s11366-018-9531-1 BOOK REVIEW Jing Chen, Useful Complaints: How Petitions Assist Decentralized Authoritarianism in China (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016), 204p., $85.00 hardback Thomas E. Kellogg Published online: 27 January 2018 Journal of Chinese Political Science/Association of Chinese Political Studies 2018 In Useful Complaints, Jing Chen attempts to explain why China has defied the central tenets of modernization theory: it has achieved rapid economic growth without signif- icant political liberalization, an especially remarkable achievement given the highly decentralized nature of Chinese authoritarianism. To explain this apparent paradox, Chen proposes an informational theory of authoritarian resilience in China. In partic- ular, she argues that the petition system has played a vital role in keeping the Chinese Communist Party in power because it channels massive amounts of information from localities across China to both higher-level governments and to the center. Upper-level officials use this information to Breward good performance and punish malpractice^ (2), and to adjust policies in response to public feedback. In so doing, Chen argues that Chinese officials bolster their own performance legitimacy, as they are seen by the public as responding actively to citizen concerns. To make her case that the petition
Journal of Chinese Political Science – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 27, 2018
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