The limitations of corporatism for understanding reforming China : An empirical analysis in a rural county

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

39 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-566
Journal / PublicationJournal of Contemporary China
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 2000


This paper challenges the usefulness of the notion of corporatism in conceptualizing the changing state-society relationship in China. Based on an empirical analysis of the pattern of state-business interaction in Huantai county, Shandong, it argues that though corporatism may exist in form, it does not exist in essence. The political reality in China differs from the corporatist description on two counts: business organizations do not function as vehicles of effective communication between state and society; and the heterogeneity among managers also hinders the possibility of collective exchange with the state. In order words, uncritical application of a corporatist perspective may firstly, exaggerate the implication of the emergence of social organization and hence misguide further inquiry, and secondly, it may also under-state the diversity within society during the reform process. In short, it may obscure as much as illuminate the dynamic social and political changes inherent in the reform process.