Outsourcing Repression: Everyday State Power in Contemporary China

Wednesday, February 07, 2024 at 12:00pm to 1:30pm

E40-496, in-person limited to the MIT Community

SSP Wednesday Seminar with speaker Lynette Ong, Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. The talk will be broadcast live on the MIT Security Studies Program Youtube channel.

Summary/abstract: How do states coerce citizens into compliance while simultaneously minimizing backlash? In Outsourcing Repression, Lynette Ong examines how the Chinese state engages nonstate actors, from violent street gangsters to nonviolent grassroots brokers, to coerce and mobilize the masses to pursue its ambitious urbanization project. She draws on ethnographic research conducted annually from 2011 to 2019--the years from Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping, a unique and original event dataset, and a collection of government regulations in a study of everyday land grabs and housing demolition in China. Theorizing a counterintuitive form of repression that reduces resistance and backlash, Ong invites the reader to reimagine the new ground state power credibly occupies. Everyday state power is quotidian power acquired through society by penetrating nonstate territories and mobilizing the masses within. After the book’s publication, Lynette has extended the arguments to explain the success, failure, and implications of China’s Zero-Covid Policy in the Journal of Democracy, Foreign Affairs and the Economist etc.


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