Community, leadership, and mass-elite relations: an investigation into political leadership in the chinese villages in the reform era

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Title: Community, leadership, and mass-elite relations: an investigation into political leadership in the chinese villages in the reform era
Author: Shan, Wei
Abstract: What is the role of political leadership in the mechanisms that bind general masses and political elites behind a certain policy program ? And what factors account for the changes in political leadership ? The mechanisms connecting citizens and elites are crucial for regime stability . The malfunction of such mechanisms , for instance , the absence of citizen -elite agreement on policy issues , or low levels of public trust in elites , undermines political support and legitimacy of the existing regime . Focusing on rural communities in China , this dissertation attempts to examine how leader -follower relations in the grassroots communities influence mass -elite interactions , and how the community contextual factors shape those leader -follower relations . Existing studies tend to focus on the patron -client connections between peasant villagers and local officials , but largely to the neglect of other kinds of social relations . Based on fieldwork interviews and panel survey data from China , I show that informal social relations , like leadership , have a significant impact on mass -elite opinion connections and public trust in local elites . By leadership or leadership relations , I refer to the mutuality of leader -follower connection that is based on either authoritative or non -authoritative , but largely non -coercive influence by both sides . An element of non -authoritative quality that binds a group of people (i .e . followers ) behind a leader is especially important . For this reason , leadership tends to be significant in a local community setting , such as in a village , that is thick with interpersonal relations . My study finds how formal elections and leadership relations in local communities co -determine the direction of opinion influence between the local elite and ordinary citizens , and how leadership facilitates citizens ? belief that their local leaders are trustworthy . Further , my analysis shows that as market activities and state control penetrate into village communities , leadership relations themselves undergo changes in that the contextual factors of the rural community have tremendous predictive power on human networks within the community . These changes imply that the political and economic reforms in the Chinese countryside have important consequences regarding local political leadership as well as mechanisms that bind masses and elites together .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /ETD -TAMU -2586
Date: 2009-05-15

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Community, leadership, and mass-elite relations: an investigation into political leadership in the chinese villages in the reform era. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /ETD -TAMU -2586 .

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