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Inklings of Democracy in China

Inklings of Democracy in China

Suzanne Ogden

ISBN 9780674008793

Publication date: 07/15/2002

Since 1979 China’s leaders have introduced economic and political reforms that have lessened the state’s hold over the lives of ordinary citizens. By examining the growth in individual rights, the public sphere, democratic processes, and pluralization, the author seeks to answer questions concerning the relevance of liberal democratic ideas for China and the relationship between a democratic political culture and a democratic political system. The author also looks at the contradictory impulses and negative consequences for democracy generated by economic liberalism.

Unresolved issues concerning the relationships among culture, democracy, and socioeconomic development are at the heart of the analysis. Nonideological criteria are used to assess the success of the Chinese approach to building a fair, just, and decent society.


  • Ogden persuasively argues that in spite of authoritarian political traditions and cultural predilections, China is moving inevitably toward greater democratization and a growing pluralization, which together are contributing to the development of a civil society. Moreover, she explains that China’s expansion of democratic institutions is shaped by Beijing’s rational analysis of what best will serve the Chinese Communist Party in its bid to remain in power; at the same time, she provides a clear-eyed evaluation of the value-laden concepts of equality and freedom that often cloud this controversial issue.

    —S. Hart, Choice


  • Suzanne Ogden is Professor of Political Science at Northeastern University, Boston.

Book Details

  • 442 pages
  • Harvard University Asia Center