Perish your assumptions first. Then publish.
— my research philosophy

REpression & Civil society Contention


Fu, Diana. 2017.  "Mobilizing Without the Masses: Control and Contention in China." Cambridge University Press, Contentious Politics Series.  Also included in Columbia University Weatherhead Series on East Asia. 

How does the authoritarian party-state govern civil society organizations? Under repression, how do weak citizens mobilize?  Based on eighteen months of political ethnography inside informal labor organizations in China (2009-2011), this project analyzed both state repression and civil society contention under Hu Jintao. 


Fu, Diana.  2017. “Disguised Collective Action in China.” Comparative Political Studies.  Vol. 50, No. 4, 499-527.  PDF  

Methods appendix published online, Oct. 2016.  PDF

It is forbidden for civil society groups in China to coordinate collective action.  Any group that organizes protests or demonstrations runs a high risk of being repressed.  Under such conditions, how does civil society bypass these constraints?  Based on first hand participant observation inside labor organizations, this study finds that activists deploy "disguised collective action" which hides organizing behind a facade of atomized actions.

Fu, Diana.  2017.  "Fragmented Control: Governing Contentious Civil Society in China. Governance.  30(3): 445-462.  PDF

Contrary to the assumption that a high capacity authoritarian state can stamp out all unwanted activism, the study finds that the local states deploy fragmented repression.  Different arms of a single local state simultaneously repress, co-opt, and facilitate illegal activism.  In the cracks, underground civil society groups survived under Hu Jintao.

Fu, Diana and G. Distelhorst.  2018. "Grassroots Participation and Repression under Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping." The China Journal.  

Covered in Reuters

How has repression of civil society transformed under the current administration?  Are there remaining channels for political participation?  A new study finds that while political opportunities for contentious participation has closed, institutionalized participation channels remains open.

Political dialogues

This new project examines everyday online dialogue between ordinary Chinese citizens and their mayors.  Drawing on a nationally representative sample of over 8000 letters to the mayor in 2013 across China, this study analyzes the "public transcripts" (Scott 1990)-on-state exchanges between rulers and the ruled in China today.  It finds that contrary to popular assumptions, legal discourse is only one among a three articulations of authoritarian citizenship.

Fu, Diana and G. Distelhorst.  "Public Transcripts: Articulating Authoritarian Citizenship in China."  Paper presented at the 2017 American Political Science Association Annual Conference.

Covered in The Economist

Labor & Gender Politics

Chairman Mao supposedly declared that Chinese women "hold up half the sky."  Yet, no woman belongs to the politburo standing committee, the nation's top decision making body.  As Chinese society begins to embrace new gender norms,  gender politics has become a politically sensitive subject.  Why does gender mobilization challenge the state? What are the impacts of the two child policy on gender discrimination at the workplace?

Fu, Diana. "Why Small Scale Action Challenges the Authoritarian State: Gender Politics in China."  Paper presented at the 2017 American Political Science Association Annual Conference.

Related: Why is Beijing Afraid of Chinese Feminists?  Washington Post Monkey Cage.

34.5% of China's 280 million plus migrant workers are women.  How are their patterns of mobilization similar and different from their urban white collar counterparts?

Fu, Diana.  2009.  "A Cage of Voices: Producing and Doing Dagongmei in Contemporary China."  Modern China.  35(5) June: 527-561. PDF