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The concept of representation in China's official ideology: Morphology and practice

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
2023-08-25
Authors/Contributors
Author: Yi, Qinghua
Abstract
While acknowledging the existence of non-democratic forms of representation, political scientists have shown little interests in understanding conceptions and practices of political representation beyond liberal democratic institutions. This dissertation offers a Chinese perspective in the study of representation through unpacking the dominant ideology in China — the official ideology of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Instead of trying to fit the Chinese case in the shoes of Western political thought, I adopt the problem-based approach to political theory (Warren 2017) and identify the definition and maintenance of connection between the representative and the represented as the key problem for representation. This problem involves three issues: how the connection is defined, how the connection is maintained, and how the connection can be evaluated. Taking advantage of insights of both Pitkin's (1967) etymological approach and Saward's (2010) constitutive approach to representation, I propose differentiation and actualization as two analytical tools for addressing these issues. Based on a morphological analysis (Freeden, 1996) of the CPC's ideology and Confucianism as cultural adjacency, I present mass line representation (MLR) as a distinct form of representation in the Chinese context. MLR differentiates from other forms of representation in its unique perspective on the representative relationship. The representatives are expected to follow the principle of "from the masses, to the masses" in representing the needs of the mases and justifying the decisions made. MLR is a form of substantive representation that emphasizes the representative's ability and judgement to include the masses in the decision-making process. In practice, the CPC's ability to provide competent and virtuous representatives is crucial for the actualization of representation in the Chinese context. Three challenges in the reform era — declining belief in the CPC's ideology, influx of liberal ideas, and corruption — further undermine the Party's ability to maintain its claimed representative connection. Three generations of CPC leadership in the post-Deng era, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, and Xi Jinping, offered their respective responses to these challenges with their ideological development and institutional innovations. Their strategies in actualizing representation in the China have brought the practice of MLR closer to meeting its own normative ideals: informative inclusion and consequential responsiveness. Instead of trying to fit the Chinese case in the shoes of Western political thought, I adopt the problem-based approach to political theory (Warren 2017) and identify the definition and maintenance of connection between the representative and the represented as the key problem for representation. This problem involves three issues: how the connection is defined, how the connection is maintained, and how the connection could be evaluated. Taking advantage of insights of both Pitkin's (1967) etymological approach and Saward's (2010) constitutive approach to representation, I propose differentiation and actualization as two tools for addressing these issues. Based on a morphological analysis of the CPC's ideology and Confucianism as cultural adjacency, I present mass line representation (MLR) as a distinct form of representation in the Chinese context. MLR differentiates from other forms of representation in its unique perspective on the connection between the representative and the represented. The representatives are expected to follow the principle of "from the masses, to the masses" in representing the needs of the mases and justifying the decisions made. MLR is a form of substantive representation that emphasizes the representative's ability and judgement to include the masses in the decision-making process. In practice, the CPC's ability to provide competent and virtuous representatives is crucial for the actualization of representation in the Chinese context. Three challenges in the reform era — declining of belief in the CPC's ideology, influx of liberal ideas, and corruption — further undermines the Party's ability to maintain its claims representative connection. Three generations of CPC leadership in the post-Deng era, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, and Xi Jinping, offered their respective responses to these challenges with their ideological development and institutional innovations. Their strategies in actualizing representation in the China have brought the practice of MLR closer to meeting its own normative ideals: informative inclusion and consequential responsiveness.
Document
Extent
310 pages.
Identifier
etd22534
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Copyright is held by the author(s).
Permissions
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Laycock, David
Language
English
Member of collection
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