Donnerstag, 22. Januar 2015, 18:30 - 20:00 iCal

Accountability and Governance in China

Informal Accountability and China's Local Governance

Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften/Sinologie
Spitalgasse 2, Hof 2, 1090 Wien


This paper studies the e ect of informal institutions on individuals' attitudes towards local governance in China. The literature of China's local governance has recently started taking into account the role played by its (local) informal institutions of accountability

(e.g., Tsai, Lily. 2007. "Solidary Groups, Informal Accountability, and Local Public Goods Provision in Rural China" American Political Science Review 101(2)). Speci cally, at the heart of this new perspective is that informal institutions such as solidary

groups to which both citizens and ocials belong help solve two critical questions in the provision of local public goods: free-riding and governmental accountability. On the one hand, the existence of social groups and networks reduces free-riding by strengthening

group sanctions and encouraging cooperative attitudes. On the other hand, ocials are informally held accountable to the citizens of the same groups for the their ability to deny the former access to moral authority. This new perspective has not only corrected the

overly elitist approaches (e.g., the selectorate theory) in explaining public goods provision in a nondemocratic context, but also made room for possible state-society synergies that have long been recognized in the good governance literature. However, despite the analytic leverages this new perspective has brought to the China eld, the two individual-level e ects of China's informal institutions have hitherto been only theoretically assumed. To empirically test these two e ects that lie at the center of this new theory of informal accountability, this study draws on the recent (third) wave of the Asian Barometer Survey (ABS). Among various useful measures of Chinese individuals' attitudes and socioeconomic background, the ABS also provides those of their views on solidary groups and

participation in local a airs, and therefore gives us an exceptional opportunity to see the degree to which the theory can be substantiated empirically as well as the conditions under which individuals behave as predicted.


Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften/Sinologie und Institut für Politikwissenschaft


Julia Ritirc
Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften/Sinologie