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Patronage and PowerLocal State Networks and Party-State Resilience in Rural China$
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Ben Hillman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804789363

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804789363.001.0001

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The Power Center of the Local State: The County and Prefectural Governments

The Power Center of the Local State: The County and Prefectural Governments

Four The Power Center of the Local State: The County and Prefectural Governments
Patronage and Power

Ben Hillman

Stanford University Press

Chapter Four examines the hidden sinews of political power in the local state by examining the role of patronage networks in county and prefecture government. The chapter explains the origin of patronage networks in Poshan, tracing the configuration of present-day networks to the early post-Mao years of decentralization and economic reform. While analysts have long been aware of the importance of personalistic ties and informal networks at the elite national level of Chinese politics, this is one of the first studies to systematically examine the origins, structure, and function of patronage networks within the local state. Despite often being seen as a parasite on the formal institutions of state, in a political system characterized by fragmented authority and personal power relations rules, patronage networks play a vital role in bureaucratic coordination and in maintaining order through the informal regulation of political competition.

Keywords:   county government, prefecture government, patronage networks, official corruption, spoils politics, informal networks

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