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Interest representation in socialist market economies: A comparative study of civil society in China and Vietnam

Posted on:1998-01-18Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:University of South CarolinaCandidate:Jeong, YeonsikFull Text:PDF
This study addresses two closely related theoretical questions. One is how political stability in authoritarian single-party systems is maintained. The other is how interest is represented in communist political systems adopting a market economy. For this purpose, China and Vietnam are chosen. To rephrase the first question in the context of China and Vietnam: how can their communist parties maintain political stability and keep the party dictatorship unchallenged, despite the popular expectation that a market economy will breed societal forces eventually threatening communist party rule. Second, how can the communist parties of China and Vietnam handle the conflicting interests of the various socioeconomic associations that have proliferated since the beginning of economic reform.;To answer these questions, this study employs two existing models of interest representation, state corporatism and clientelism, and hypothesizes a new model called for the study's purpose clientelistic state corporatism. This refers to an interest representation system in which interest groups are organized in a state-corporatist framework but represent their interests through clientelistic networks. In addition, the study develops an argument that the way interests are represented to the state is a good indicator of the extent of civil society which is considered in the discourse of democratization as a precondition.;With the theoretical framework, the study finds that classic state corporatism is institutionalized in Vietnam as the dominant interest representation system, while in China all the three models of interest representation systems operate. State corporatism in Vietnam is quite inclusive. Many socioeconomic associations in Vietnam can and do represent their interests within the corporatist framework. In contrast, state corporatism in China is exclusive. This means that group-level interests are not well represented. Behind the scenes, however, clientelism called guanxi serves as the interest representation system for Chinese people, but only for individual-level interests. What is remarkable is that the deeply-rooted clientelism has permeated the corporatist structure so as to make up a system of clientelistic state corporatism. In this, collective interests of socioeconomic associations can be represented to the state through group leaders' individual networks. Based on these findings, it can be concluded that the communist parties of China and Vietnam have been able to maintain political stability because these systems of interest representation have absorbed various socioeconomic interests.;The differences in the degree and the ways interests are represented in China and Vietnam suggest that a civil society is more likely to emerge in Vietnam than in China. Although limited within the parameters of state corporatism, interest representation in Vietnam is available to most groups and conducted in an open way. In China, the clientelistic state-corporatist system is available only to a limited number of socioeconomic associations. Groups of relatively small size with rich resources in terms of both materials and guanxi can effectively represent their collective interests, while groups of large size such as trade unions which lack resources and guanxi cannot. Furthermore, even when interests are represented through either the clientelistic system or the clientelistic state-corporatist system, they are represented in a clandestine way that impedes the emergence of a civil society.
Keywords/Search Tags:Civil society, Interest representation, Vietnam, China, System, State, Political stability, Clientelistic
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