The People’s Republic of China has experienced numerous challenges and undergone tremendous structural changes over the past four decades. The party-state now faces a fundamental tension in its pursuit of social stability and regime durability. Repressive state strategies enable the Chinese Communist Party to maintain its monopoly on political power, yet the quality of governance and regime legitimacy are enhanced when the state adopts more inclusive modes of engagement with society.
Based on a dynamic typology of state–society relations, this volume adopts an evolutionary framework to examine how the Chinese state relates with non-state actors across several fields of governance. Drawing on original fieldwork, the authors identify areas in which state–society interactions have shifted over time, ranging from more constructive engagement to protracted conflict. This evolutionary approach provides nuanced insight into the circumstances wherein the party-state exerts its coercive power versus engaging in more flexible responses or policy adaptations.