Mass political interest in urban China: an empirical study.
Political and economic developments in China seem to continue to defy the conventional wisdom that economic growth fosters democracy. The Chinese communist regime has successfully survived the worldwide wave of democratisation, including the recent democratic changes in the Arab world. What sustains the stability of the Chinese political regime appears to be the country's rapid economic growth over the past three decades as it catapults China to becoming the second-largest economy in the world. In the reform era, the Communist Party of China (CPC) successfully turned a political system of "politics takes command" during the Cultural Revolution into a system of "economics takes command". Deng Xiaoping once famously said that "economic development is the real hard truth" (fazhan shi yingdaoli), implying that so long as the economy performs well, the CPC regime will remain stable, especially since the primary concern of the Chinese people is their personal economic conditions. Indeed, the political legitimacy of the CPC today is said to be largely built upon China's impressive economic performance in the last three decades. (1) It appears that the Chinese government has successfully diverted the Chinese people's attention from politics to personal economic betterment since the 1989 Tiananmen events and that the Chinese have generally become politically apathetic. In addition, Chinese people traditionally exercise restraint in discussing national affairs or politics (motan guoshi).
This article attempts to explore whether the Chinese people are still interested in politics and state affairs in an increasingly materialistic society; and more importantly, what the demographic profiles of these people who tend to be more interested in Chinese politics are. This study carries both theoretical as well as practical implications. The importance of political interest as psychological involvement in politics and public affairs has been well observed and documented by Western scholarship. (2) Psychological involvement in politics and public affairs is often believed to be a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for active political participation. For instance, as Sidney Verba and his associates argue in their seminal study of political participation in seven nations, "everything else being equal, those individuals who possess greater motivation (i.e., political interest) ... for political activity will be more active" and given that other conditions are equal, those who are interested in politics "out-participate" those who are apathetic. (3) Similar findings have also been reported by scholars studying the former Soviet Union. (4) For example, in their empirical study of mass political participation in the former USSR, Bahry and Silver found that those who were more interested in politics were more likely to engage in conventional as well as unconventional political activities. (5) Therefore, the theoretical implication is that such a linkage between the level of political interest and political participation may also exist in China, a transitional society. One practical implication is that a high level of political interest among Chinese citizens may indicate a potential for their active participation in conventional and/or unconventional political activities. More importantly, given the intricate relationship between the level of political interest or psychological involvement in politics and the likelihood of political participation, it becomes important that we understand which demographic profiles in Chinese society are more likely to have higher levels of political interest and what factors may lead people to be psychologically involved in politics. We are especially interested in finding out whether the more politically interested people tend to be regime supporters or people who are dissatisfied with government policy performance and thus desire change. If it is the former, the Chinese government should not have any worry since it is highly probable that regime supporters will participate in regime-supporting political activities and not engage in unconventional anti-regime political activities. However, if the latter is true, it is more likely that discontented people who desire political change will seek ways, including unconventional means, to change the existing political system or order.
Levels of political interest as a separate dependent variable have not been sufficiently studied in an empirical fashion. In the limited number of empirical studies, political interest was either treated as an act of political participation (6) or as an independent variable. (7) Few explore the degree and sources of psychological involvement in politics in China. An empirical study conducted by Jie Chen and Yang Zhong in Beijing in the mid-1990s found that political interest among Beijing residents was relatively high; this is contrary to the prevalent perception that Chinese people were obsessed only with their economic conditions and were politically apathetic during the reform era. (8) They further noticed that age, gender, income, political status, political efficacy, and life satisfaction had significant impacts on the levels of political interest among Beijingers. Another survey study conducted by Yang Zhong and Junghyoun Kim in rural southern Jiangsu Province in 2000 yielded similar results. (9) As more than a decade has passed since these studies were conducted, it is thus worthwhile revisiting the issue of political interest in China.
This research is an empirical study of mass political interest based on a massive cross-regional survey in ten Chinese cities, conducted between May and June of 2012 by the Center for Public Opinion Research of Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The ten cities were Beijing and Harbin in the north, Chengdu, Kunming and Xining in the west, Guangzhou in the south, Shanghai and Xiamen in the east, and Zhengzhou and Wuhan in the central part of the country The sample size for each of the ten cities was 700 people. The sampling frame includes both landline and cell phone numbers in these cities. The Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) system generated random telephone numbers. (10) Graduate and undergraduate students at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and several other surrounding universities in Shanghai were trained to conduct the anonymous survey. The data set is truly unique in that large-scale cross-regional random political surveys are not often done in China.
There are primarily two reasons why urban residents were chosen for this study. (11) The first is the important role of cities and urban residents in Chinese politics and political development. The population of urban residents, for the first time in Chinese history, has surpassed that of rural residents. (12) Urban residents are better educated and more well informed; many are elites in various fields in the Chinese society. Their support is indispensable for the current political regime in China. As the 1989 democracy movement that shook up Chinese politics occurred primarily in China's urban areas, it makes sense to analyse the level of political interest among residents in urban China. The second reason is based on consideration of convenience. Conducting telephone interviews in China's urban areas is easier and more manageable due to urban residents' access to telephones.
On a descriptive level, the key question addressed in this study was: To what degree are Chinese urban residents still interested in politics or state affairs? Other pertinent questions included: How satisfied are Chinese urbanites with policy performance? How do urban residents feel about political reform in China? How happy are they with their lives in general? On an analytical level, we attempted to identify factors that affect urban residents' level of political interest. Besides the usual socio-economic and demographic factors such as age, gender, income, education and Communist Party membership, this study aimed to explore the relationships between the level of political interest and the level of satisfaction with local government performance in specific policy areas such as education, medical care, housing, social safety net, employment, public safety, infrastructure, cultural development and environment. It also explored the relationships between the level of political interest and attitudes towards political reform and democracy, and between the level of political interest and general life satisfaction. Even though this study did not cover the whole of China, the findings explain and shed light on the level of political interest of the masses, who tend to have some interest in politics.
LEVELS OF POLITICAL INTEREST AMONG CHINESE URBAN RESIDENTS
How much do Chinese urban residents still care about politics and state affairs after three decades of economic reform? Literature on Chinese political culture and participation often describes three relatively distinct periods with regard to mass political interest in contemporary China. The first period was before the successful conclusion of the Chinese Communist Revolution in 1949 when most Chinese seemed to be politically apathetic and ignorant. (13) James Townsend characterises this stage as a period of "popular isolation from politics". (14) The second period, between the 1950s and 1970s, was marked by a "participation explosion" due to Chairman Mao's sustained and constant mobilisation efforts, which led to unprecedented enthusiasm on the part of the population in public and political affairs, especially during the ten years of the Cultural Revolution. (15) Between 1966 and 1976, politics in fact became the centre of attention for both the government and the masses. Chinese society was highly politicised and politics penetrated every aspect of Chinese life. According to John Burns, political participation in the Chinese countryside was especially active during this period. Peasants used various means to protect and voice their interests, including state institutions (such as local assemblies, mass organisations, elections and media) and non-conventional activities (such as passive resistance and collective violence). (16) During the third phase, which covers most of the post-Mao reform period and continues to the present day, a popular perception among China observers is that the Chinese people are consumed with materialism and making money and have become indifferent to politics, an exception being the Tiananmen events in 1989. (17) Deng Xiaoping's slogan "Getting Rich is Glorious" carries the day in modern China. A major consequence of the reforms is the significant depoliticisation of the Chinese society. In fact, according to Peter Moody, there has been an antipolitical tendency in the Chinese society, which is tacitly endorsed by the Chinese government. (18) Is this the true picture? Anecdotal evidence has however shown that Chinese people still pay attention to politics and national public affairs. It is common for people to talk about politics and national/international events in public places such as restaurants, parks and train stations. Political postings and comments proliferate on Chinese websites. An advantage of survey research, if properly done, is that it offers analysts a more precise understanding of people's attitudes, opinions and orientations.
In the context of this article, political interest is defined as an individual's degree of interest in and concern with government and public affairs. It should be noted that the concept of political interest in this study is different from the concept of political participation even though both are related to some extent. "Political interest" is defined as the psychological involvement for political and public affairs, while "political participation" is more about a pattern of action or inaction in politics and public affairs. (19) Although those who are more interested in politics are more likely to participate in politics, high levels of psychological involvement in politics and public affairs do not always translate into actual political participation, perhaps due to institutional constraints and/or a lack of resources. Even in a democracy, as Robert Dahl has noted, it is considerably easier to be merely interested in politics than to be actually active in politics; interest costs little in terms of physical energy and time while activity demands much more. (20)
For simplicity, we used a straightforward question ("Are you interested in national affairs and state events?") to measure the level of mass political interest among residents in the ten-city survey. The survey respondents were given a number of choices ("1" = "no interest at all", "2" = "not very interested", "3" = "neutral", "4" = "interested", "5" = "very interested", "6" = "hard to say"). (21) The operationalisation and measurement of political interest is derived from Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba's seminal study of civic political culture. Almond and Verba's concept of "civic cognition" is equivalent to our concept of "political interest". (22) According to Almond and Verba, political interest means "following governmental and political affairs and paying attention to politics", which "represent the cognitive component of the civic orientation". (23) Almond and Verba used two straightforward indicators in their study to measure civic cognition: (i) attention to political and governmental affairs in general, (24) and (ii) attention to major political events/activities such as a campaign in a democratic system. (25)
Our survey indicated that the perception of a low level of political interest among Chinese is inaccurate. As Table 1 shows, around 18 per cent of the urban respondents indicated that they were "very interested" and 38 per cent indicated they were "interested" in national affairs. Put together, close to 60 per cent of Chinese urban residents in the surveyed cities showed interest in politics. This combined figure is to some extent lower than that found in urban Beijing in the 1990s. (26) The difference is probably due to the fact that Beijing is the political centre of the country and Beijing residents, compared to residents of other parts of China, are traditionally more interested in politics. It is also true that around 40 per cent of the respondents did not care about national politics. In fact, the level of political interest among the surveyed urban Chinese residents was comparable to or higher than that found in other regions and regions (Table 2). Levels of political interest among the Chinese urban respondents was similar to that in the United States (59 per cent) and Japan (64 per cent), but higher than that in the United Kingdom (44 per cent), Hong Kong (14 per cent), Taiwan (28 per cent), South Korea (41 per cent), Mexico (34 per cent) and South Africa (44 per cent) between 2005 and 2007. It is particularly noteworthy that the levels of political interest found among Chinese urbanites in this study was significantly higher than that in Hong Kong and Taiwan, two other Chinese societies. The high level of political interest reported among Chinese urban residents may not be surprising, considering the fact that China faces many troubling national and local issues as well as the public's disapproval of official corruption at all governmental levels, abuse of power by government officials, the widening gap between rich and poor and the lack of democracy. Internet access has fuelled the interest in and facilitated discussion of national political issues.
EXPLAINING THE LEVEL OF POLITICAL INTEREST IN URBAN CHINA
As mentioned, this study aims to identify the profile of Chinese urban residents that have greater interest in political and state affairs because the findings may carry political implications, assuming that there is a relationship between level of political interest and potential for political action. The association of political and socio-economic factors with one's political interest level has been explicitly studied in Western political science literature. (27) In their study of political interest levels in Beijing, Jie Chen and Yang Zhong found that a number of political factors contribute to Beijing residents' interest in political and state affairs. (28) For example, their study reveals that people who were less satisfied with government performance in various policy areas were more interested in political and public affairs. Drawing upon previous studies on this subject conducted in China and other countries, we focussed on the following specific political factors as explanatory variables in explaining the level of political interest among urban dwellers in China: satisfaction with urban government policy performance, and attitudes towards multiparty democracy and political reform. These three factors, in our view, will determine whether a person is satisfied with the status quo or whether he/she is supportive of political change in China.
Satisfaction with Urban Government Policy Performance
People's interest in politics can be triggered by dissatisfaction with government performance in the policy areas vital to their socio-economic life. This is because the most dissatisfied people are highly likely to pay attention to governmental affairs in order to seek solutions, or at least an explanation, for the shortfalls and shortcomings in policy areas. This is said to be true especially when the government is believed to affect the distribution of both tangible and intangible goods that people value. (29) As Chinese society has a high degree of pervasive penetration by the state, people are even more likely to look to the governmental domains when they feel dissatisfied with some major aspects of their socio-economic life. (30) Thus, we hypothesised that those who are dissatisfied with government performance in their concerned areas are most likely to be interested in politics and public affairs.
In the survey, we asked the respondents to grade, on a scale of 1 to 10, local city governmental performance in nine policy areas. In order to capture a collective profile of the respondents' assessment of these areas, the nine items were then combined to form an additive index--as a summary variable for dissatisfaction/satisfaction with government performance--ranging from 9 (indicating very unsatisfactory performance) to 90 (indicating very satisfactory performance). This index is employed in a multivariate analysis.
As shown in Figure 1, the urban residents surveyed in the ten Chinese cities were moderately satisfied with public services in policy areas provided by the local city government. On a scale of 1 to 10, the urban respondents in our survey gave an average of 7.39 for local government performance in providing public services in nine policy areas, with the highest satisfaction level registered in city infrastructure development and public cultural and recreational facilities (including outdoor fitness facilities in residential areas). They were least happy with local government efforts in stabilising housing prices and improving medical care. Since the 1990s, Chinese urban governments at all levels have been striving to be service-oriented (fuwuxing zhengfu) by meeting their citizens' demands and engaging in massive public work projects. All the ten cities included in this study have been given a facelift in their modernisation process. The expansion and modernisation of Chinese cities have also brought other problems to urban residents, such as traffic congestion, pollution and crimes. The findings, however, show that urban respondents seemed to be relatively satisfied with the public services provided by their local government. Scores given by the survey respondents in the nine policy areas were added to form an additive index to be used as the independent variable for satisfaction with urban local government policy performance.
Attitudes Toward Democracy and Political Reform
Chinese reforms since the late 1970s have clearly tilted towards economic structural changes. Most of the so-called political reforms are primarily administrative and bureaucratic in nature. Even though most China scholars have recognised that China in the reform era has been transformed from a Maoist type of totalitarian system to a more relaxed authoritarian system, (31) the fundamentals of the communist political system have remained: (i) the exclusive one-party rule; (ii) absolute political power of the CPC in governmental affairs; (iii) strict control of Party and governmental personnel by the CPC; (iv) complete or near complete control of the media; and (v) lack of political freedom and civil liberties. It has long been debated among Chinese intellectuals whether Chinese traditional culture contributes to China's authoritarianism. However, a number of empirical studies have shown that most Chinese people in both urban and rural areas do support core democratic values and value freedom. (32) The causal relationship between the level of political interest on one hand and democratic orientation and need for political reform on the other can go either way. We hypothesise that people who tend to be more democratically oriented and feel a greater need for political reform tend to pay more attention to state political affairs. The reason is that people who wish to see a more democratic China engaged in political reform tend to look for signs and messages from the government that point to more democratic reforms. They are also more interested in finding faults with the current political system, and with the help of the Internet, pay greater attention to state political affairs.
In contrast, people who are more acquiescent towards the current authoritarian political system in China may be less interested in state political affairs. We concede that the hypothesis is more of a theory-generating exercise.
We used two questions in the survey to detect respondents' attitudes towards democracy and political reform. The first question was intended to determine respondents' reaction to the statement that China should not adopt a multi-party political system (to which the options were "1" = "completely agree", "2" = "agree", "3" = "disagree", "4" = "completely disagree", "5" = "don't know", and "6" = "refuse to answer"). (33) The second question asked them if they felt there is an urgent need for political reform in China (to which the options were "1" = "no need for political reform", "2" = "not quite urgent", "3" = "urgent", "4" = "quite urgent", "5" = "don't know", and "6" = "refuse to answer"). (34) Both questions concern the diffuse support for the current political system in the People's Republic of China. Responses to these two questions can determine whether a respondent is for the status quo or for political change in China.
As shown in Table 3, opinion was split among urban respondents on the question of whether China should adopt a multi-party political system. About half did not show support for a multi-party political system in China while 40 per cent favoured such a political system in China. It should be noted that since 1989 the Chinese government has relentlessly emphasised the importance of political and social stability in developing the country's economy as well as how a Western-style multi-party political system may lead to political and social chaos. (35) The Chinese official media often reports excessively on political and social instabilities experienced by newly democratised countries in order to drive home the point that China would have experienced similar political instability, economic decline, national disintegration or even civil war if it had taken the path of these countries. The repeated emphasis on stability by the Chinese government struck a chord in the psyche of many Chinese people who are adverse to luan or chaos due to centuries of upheavals, rebellions, civil wars and revolutions in contemporary Chinese history. Even though many of the urban residents in the survey were hesitant in desiring a multi-party political system, most were in favour of a meaningful political reform in China. Close to 60 per cent of the respondents believed that political reform was either urgently or very urgently needed in China (Table 4).
Demographic and Socio-Economic Factors
Level of political interest is often associated with certain demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. For example, in their study of mass political interest in Beijing, Chen and Zhong found that middle-aged males, Communist Party members and people with better economic standing tended to pay more attention to politics. (36) We also included a number of demographic and socio-economic factors such as age, gender, income, educational level, Communist Party membership and overall satisfaction with life as control variables in our multivariate analyses.
In Western political science literature, a prevailing argument over the relationship between age and political interest is that young people tend to show less political interest than the older generation due to their preoccupation with other things in life, such as establishing their career and forming a family. (37) Therefore, we hypothesised that age influences levels of political interest among urban residents in a positive way (i.e., older people tend to pay more attention to politics and state affairs).
It is also well documented in Western political science literature that there is a gender gap with regard to levels of political interest and participation. Kent Jennings once noted, "a raft of research around the world has demonstrated that, by most standards, men are more politically active than women"; such a gap is narrower in more advanced societies and among people of higher socio-economic strata. (38) This gap is in part due to the traditional roles of women in society and the perception that politics is a "man's business". (39) Promoting gender equality has been an official policy in the PRC since the 1950s. Chairman Mao was most vocal in creating equality between men and women. During Mao's era, both men and women were mobilised equally to participate in various political campaigns and activities. However, gender equality was never completely achieved in those years due in part to deep-rooted traditional values that favour men over women and encourage women to be socially passive. This situation has not changed in the post-Mao era. In fact, women's status in China has arguably deteriorated during the reform era. Blatant discrimination against women is especially common in employment and at the workplace. Women's perceived roles in Chinese society are still taking care of the children and family. Chen and Zhong's survey found that women were less attentive to politics than men in Beijing. (40) We, therefore, hypothesised that men are more interested in political and state affairs than women among Chinese urban residents.
Like age and gender, education is often considered a major factor in affecting one's level of political interest and participation. (41) People with more years of education tend to show higher levels of political interest. There are a number of reasons for this positive relationship. For one thing, education equips a person with the cognitive capability to receive and digest political information. Education also increases one's capacity to understand the personal implications of political events and affairs and impacts one's confidence in his or her ability to influence politics if given the opportunity. Empirical studies conducted in China have shown that education does indeed have an impact on individuals' levels of political interest. (42) Hence, we hypothesised that education level positively contributes to one's level of political interest among China's urban residents. Education level is categorised as follows: "1" = "primary school or below", "2" = "middle school", "3" = "high school", "4" = "junior college", "5" = "college" and "6" = "post-college graduate education".
Claiming a membership of over 80 million, the CPC is no doubt the world's largest political party. One of the requirements for joining the CPC is political consciousness or level of attention paid to current political affairs. CPC members are periodically organised in meetings where they are informed about the Party and government policies and also discuss political issues. In addition, CPC members are mostly elites with higher levels of education education, and they are thus expected to be more interested in politics and state affairs among other urban residents.
Personal Economic Conditions and Life Satisfaction
If we accept Maslow's theory of the hierarchy of human needs, we should assume that one's interest in politics and public affairs is positively related to one's financial conditions. Voting studies suggest that people of better economic standing tend to be more active in election participation. Verba and his associates hint at another reason why economically better-off people are more likely to be involved in politics and public affairs: they have greater stakes in politics (i.e., vested economic interests). (43) However, there is another argument suggesting that people with higher incomes are less interested in politics due to the fact that they are too busy making money. (44) This is probably true in the case of China. Many China watchers observe that people with higher incomes in China are preoccupied with seizing financial and business opportunities and are less interested in politics and public affairs. (45) Another possible reason why people with lower incomes might be more interested in politics and public affairs is that they have more problems and complaints about their poor economic conditions and hope that the government will address their concerns.
In their study of Beijing residents, Chen and Zhong found that the level of political interest was positively related to one's financial conditions. (46) Therefore, we hypothesised that Chinese urbanites with higher incomes and higher levels of life satisfaction tend to pay more attention to politics and state affairs. Two indicators were used to measure economic conditions and life satisfaction: income level and the response to the question whether one is, generally speaking, happy with his or her life now ("1" = "not very happy", "2" = "not happy", "3" = "so so", "4" = "happy", "5" = "very happy" and "6" = "hard to say"). (47) As Figure 2 shows, about half of the urban respondents surveyed felt happy or very happy about their lives while the other respondents felt otherwise.
ANALYTICAL FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS
Table 5 displays the results of multivariate analyses explaining the levels of political interest among Chinese urban residents. Altogether, the regression model in this study accounted for about 10 per cent of the variance in mass political interest in the survey population. As shown in Table 5, people who were less satisfied with urban government public policy performance tended to be more interested in politics. The findings also showed that Chinese urban residents who favoured multi-party political systems were more interested in politics and state affairs. Moreover, a level of political interest was positively related to one's perceived need for political reform in China. In other words, people who were more supportive of political reform in China showed more interest in political and state affairs.
In addition, demographic, political and socio-economic factors were determinants of levels of political interest among the urban Chinese residents surveyed. More specifically, men tended to pay more attention to politics than women, older people were more interested in politics than the younger people and people with higher education showed more interest in politics than the less educated. These findings were consistent with evidence in other studies in China and other countries with regard to political interest and participation. (48) For example, except for the education factor, the findings were similar to Jie Chen and Yang Zhong's study of Beijing residents in the mid-1990s. (49) As expected, Communist Party members paid more attention to politics and state affairs, and all the more for many of those who were also Party and government officials, whose job was politicking and had greater stakes in politics and state affairs. The multivariate analyses also showed that people who had higher incomes and higher levels of life satisfaction were actually more interested in politics. This finding is particularly interesting because it shows that economic betterment and life satisfaction have not diverted people's attention away from politics. In other words, we may expect Chinese people to pay more attention instead of less attention to politics as their living standard improves.
This study also presents important descriptive findings with regard to levels of political interest in urban China. Contrary to the common perception that Chinese people are indifferent to political issues and public affairs due to their preoccupation with improving their economic conditions and pursuing materialism, we found that close to 60 per cent of the Chinese urban respondents in the survey were interested or very interested in politics and state affairs. This percentage is comparable to that found in other countries. Apparently, economic growth and pursuit of materialism in the reform era have not completely diverted the attention of Chinese urbanites from politics. The findings question the Chinese government's strategy of inducing the Chinese people to be apolitical and indifferent to politics by promoting materialism and economic welfare. Moreover, if political interest is an indicator of an individual's propensity for political activity, the findings of relatively high levels of political interest in this survey may imply a high potential for mass political participation and activities in urban China.
The findings on the groups which show greater interest in politics and state affairs among Chinese urbanites are illuminating since the observation may carry important implications for China's political development. First of all, the analytical findings showed that Chinese urban residents were not that different from people in other parts of the world as far as the relationships between level of political interest and certain demographic factors such as age, gender and education are concerned. Second and more importantly, we found that people who showed greater interest in politics in urban China tended to be those who were dissatisfied with government policy performance and who favoured a multi-party political system and further political reform in China. In other words, Chinese urban residents who were more interested in politics were likely to challenge China's current political system. The implication is that, if given the opportunity, people who are anti-regime are more likely to participate in conventional and unconventional political activities, assuming that there is a connection between the level of political interest and the potential to take political action. Therefore, the Chinese government needs to improve government policy performance and conduct democratic political reform to reduce the possibility of anti-regime political activities in urban China.
The authors would like to express their sincere appreciation to the three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this article.
Zhong Yang (email@example.com) is Changjiang Scholar at the School of International and Public Affairs of Shanghai Jiao Tong University and a Professor of Political Science at the University of Tennessee. He obtained his PhD in 1992 from the University of Kentucky. His main research interests include political culture, political participation and local government in China.
Hu Wei (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Distinguished Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He obtained his PhD from Fudan University. His research interests include comparative politics, policy analysis and Chinese government and politics.
(1) For political legitimacy studies of the Communist Party of China, see Bruce Gilley and Heike Holbig, "The Debate on Party Legitimacy in China: A Mixed Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis", Journal of Contemporary China 18, no. 59 (2009): 338-58; Xueliang Ding, The Decline of Communism in China: Legitimacy Crisis, 1977-1989 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994); Gungwu Wang and Yongnian Zheng, eds., Reform, Legitimacy and Dilemmas: China's Politics and Society (Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 2000); Bruce Gilley, The Right to Rule: How States Win and Lose Legitimacy (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009); Thomas Heberer and Gunter Schubert, eds., Regime Legitimacy in Contemporary China (London: Routledge, 2009); Jie Chen, Popular Political Support in Urban China (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2004); Vivienne Shue, "Legitimacy Crisis in China?", in State and Society in 21st-century China, eds. Peter Hays Gries and Stanley Rosen (New York: Routledge, 2004), pp. 41-68; Yang Zhong, "Legitimacy Crisis and Legitimization in China", Journal ofContemporary Asia 26, no. 2 (1996): 201-20; and Andre Laliberte and Marc Lanteigne, eds., The Chinese Party-State in the 21st Century: Adaptation and the Reinvention of Legitimacy (London, Routledge, 2008).
(2) See, for example, Sidney Verba, Norman Nie and Jae-on Kim, The Modes of Democratic Participation: A Cross-National Study (Beverly Hills: Cambridge University Press, 1971); Samuel Huntington and Joan Nelson, No Easy Choice: Political Participation in Developing Countries (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976); Curtis Gans, "The Empty Ballot Box: Reflections on Nonvoters in America", Public Opinion 1 (1978): 54-7; Arthur Hadley, The Empty Polling Booth (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1978); Sidney Verba, Norman Nie and Jae-on Kim, Participation and Political Equality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978); Stephen Bennett, Apathy in America, 1960-1984: Causes and Consequences of Citizen Political Indifference (Dobbs Ferry: Transnational Publishers, 1986); and Tom DeLuca, The Two Faces of Political Apathy (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995).
(3) Verba, Nie and Kim, Participation and Political Equality, p. 71.
(4) Donna Bahry, "Politics, Generations, and Change in the USSR", in Politics, Work, and Daily Life in the USSR: A Survey of Former Soviet Citizens, ed. James Miller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987); Donna Bahry and Brian Silver, "Soviet Citizens Participation on the Eve of Democratization", American Political Science Review 84, no. 3 (1990): 821-47; and Cynthia Kaplan, "New Forms of Political Participation", in Public Opinion and Regime Change: New Politics of Post Soviet Societies, eds. Arthur Miller, William Riesinger and Vicki Hesli (Boulder: Westview Press, 1993), pp. 153-67.
(5) Bahry and Silver, "Soviet Citizens Participation on the Eve of Democratization".
(6) See Jianhua Zhu, Xinshu Zhao and Hairong Li, "Public Political Consciousness in China", Asian Survey 30, no. 10 (1990): 992-1006.
(7) Tianjian Shi, Political Participation in Beijing (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997).
(8) Jie Chen and Yang Zhong, "Mass Political Interest: Apathy in Urban China", Communist and Post-Communist Studies 32 (1999): 281-303.
(9) Yang Zhong and Junghyoun Kim, "Political Interest in Rural Southern Jiangsu Province in China", Journal of Chinese Political Science 10, no. 2 (2005): 1-20.
(10) The successful response rate for this survey was close to 10 per cent, which was considered reasonably good compared with other similar surveys conducted in Mainland China. Successfully completed calls, on average, lasted around 10 minutes.
(11) The urban residents in this survey included both permanent residents as well as temporary residents in the surveyed cities.
(12) According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, 51.27 per cent of Chinese citizens lived in cities and towns at the end of 2011. See <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/18/world/asia/majority-ofchinese-now-live-in- cities.html> [19 Jan. 2012].
(13) Zhu, Zhao and Li, "Public Political Consciousness in China", p. 992.
(14) James Townsend, Political Participation in Communist China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), pp. 10-20.
(16) John Burns, Political Participation in Rural China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), pp. 1-2.
(17) For more on this perception, see Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power (New York: Time Books, 1994); and Arthur Rosenbaum, State and Society in China: The Consequences of Reform (Boulder: Westview Press, 1992), p. 19.
(18) Peter Moody, "The Antipolitical Tendency in Contemporary Chinese Political Thinking", in Chinese Political Culture: 1989-2000, ed. Shiping Hua (Armonk: M. E. Sharpe, 2001), p. 162.
(19) Bennett, Apathy in America, 1960-1984, p. 33.
(20) Robert Dahl, Who Governs? Democracy and Power in an American City (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961), p. 281.
(21) Responses that chose "hard to say" are treated as missing data.
(22) Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba, Civic Culture: Political Attitudes in Five Nations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963), pp. 88-9.
(23) Ibid., p. 88.
(24) The actual question formulated to measure this indicator was: "Do you follow the accounts of political and governmental affairs? Would you say you follow them regularly, from time to time, or never?" See Almond and Verba., p. 89.
(25) The actual question formulated to measure this indicator was: "What about the campaigning that goes on at the time of a national election--do you pay much attention to what goes on, just a little, or none at all?" See Almond and Verba.
(26) Regarding the two Beijing surveys, see Yang Zhong, Jie Chen and John Scheb, "Mass Political Culture in Beijing: Findings from Two Public Opinion Surveys", Asian Survey 38, no. 8 (1998): 763-83.
(27) Almond and Verba, Civic Culture: Political Attitudes in Five Nations; Verba, Nie and Kim, The Modes ofDemocratic Participation: A Cross-National Study; Verba, Nie and Kim, Participation and Political Equality; Bennett, Apathy in America, 1960-1984: Causes and Consequences of Citizen Political Indifference; and DeLuca, The Two Faces of Political Apathy.
(28) Chen and Zhong, "Mass Political Interest: Apathy in Urban China".
(29) See Yang Zhong, Local Government and Politics in China: Challenges from Below (Armonk: M. E. Sharpe, 2003), pp. 4-7
(30) Kent Jennings, "Political Participation in the Chinese Countryside", American Political Science Review 91, no. 2 (1997): 367.
(31) See Yang Zhong, Local Government and Politics in China: Challenges from Below (Armonk: M. E. Sharpe, 2003), pp. 4-7.
(32) Jie Chen and Yang Zhong, "Defining the Political System of Post-Deng China: Emerging Public Support for a Democratic Political System", Problems of Post-Communism 45, no. 1 (1998): 30-42; and Yang Zhong, "Democratic Values among Chinese Peasantry: An Empirical Study", China: An International Journal 3, no. 2 (2005): pp. 189-211.
(33) Responses that chose "don't know" and "refuse to answer" are treated as missing data.
(35) See Yang Zhong, "Legitimacy Crisis and Legitimization in China", Journal of Contemporary Asia 26, no. 2 (1996): 214.
(36) See Chen and Zhong, "Mass Political Interest: Apathy in Urban China".
(37) See, for example, Jennings and Niemi, Generations and Politics: A Panel Study of Young Adults and Their Parents (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981); and Bennett, Apathy in America, 1960-1984.
(38) Jennings, "Political Participation in the Chinese Countryside".
(39) Robert Lane, Political Life: Why and How People Get Involved in Politics (New York: Times Books, 1965), pp. 210-14; and Bennett, Apathy in America, 1960-1984, pp. 69-70.
(40) Chen and Zhong, "Mass Political Interest: Apathy in Urban China".
(41) Almond and Verba, Civic Culture, p. 381; Hans Kingemann, "The Background of Ideological Conceptualization", Political Action: Mass Participation in Five Western Democracies, ed. Samuel Barnes (Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1979), pp. 255-77; and Ronald Inglehart, Modernization and Post-modernization (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), p. 307.
(42) Zhu, Zhao and Li, "Public Political Consciousness in China"; Andrew Nathan and Tianjian Shi, "Cultural Requisites for Democracy in China: Findings from a Survey", Daedalus 139 (1994): 95-123; Jennings, "Political Participation in the Chinese Countryside"; and Chen and Zhong, "Mass Political Interest: Apathy in Urban China".
(43) Verba, Nie and Kim, The Modes of Democratic Participation, p. 126.
(44) Walter Lippmann, Men of Destiny (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1927).
(45) Kristof and WuDunn, China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power.
(46) Chen and Zhong, "Mass Political Interest: Apathy in Urban China".
(47) Responses that chose "hard to say" are treated as missing data.
(48) Lane, Political Life: Why and How People Get Involved in Politics; Jennings and Niemi, Generations and Politics: A Panel Study of Young Adults and Their Parents; Bennett, Apathy in America, 1960-1984; and Jennings, "Political Participation in the Chinese Countryside".
(49) Chen and Zhong, "Mass Political Interest: Apathy in Urban China".
TABLE 1 LEVELS OF POLITICAL INTEREST AMONG CHINESE URBAN RESIDENTS (%) No interest Not Neutral at all interested Are you interested in national 1.1 7.5 33.4 affairs and state events? Interested Very Hard interested to say Are you interested in national 38.9 18.6 0.4 affairs and state events? N = 7,023 TABLE 2 LEVELS OF POLITICAL INTEREST IN THE US, THE UK, HONG KONG, TAIWAN, SOUTH KOREA, JAPAN, MEXICO AND SOUTH AFRICA (%) USA UK Hong Kong Taiwan South Korea Respondents saying they 59 44 14 28 41 are "somewhat" or "very interested" in politics Japan Mexico South Africa Respondents saying they 64 34 44 are "somewhat" or "very interested" in politics Source: World Values Survey (Fifth Wave), USA (2006), UK (2006), Hong Kong (2005), Taiwan (2006), South Korea (2005), Japan (2005), Mexico (2005), and South Africa (2007).The actual question in the survey was: "How interested would you say you are in politics?" See <http://www.wvsevsdb.com/wvs/WVSAnalizeStudy.jsp> [20 July 2012]. TABLE 3 ATTITUDE TOWARDS DEMOCRATIC CHANGE IN CHINA (%) Completely Agree Disagree agree China should not adopt 41.2 10.1 21.5 a multiparty political system N = 7,023 Completely Don't know Refuse to disagree answer China should not adopt 19.0 6.8 1.4 a multiparty political system N = 7,023 TABLE 4 ATTITUDE TOWARDS POLITICAL REFORM (%) No need for Not Urgent political quite reform urgent How do you feel about 3.1 28 36.2 the urgency to promote political reform in China? N = 7,023 Quite Don't Refuse to urgent know answer How do you feel about 22.2 9.4 1.2 the urgency to promote political reform in China? N = 7,023 TABLE 5 ORDINARY LEAST SQUARES (OLS) MODEL OF LEVEL OF POLITICAL INTEREST IN URBAN CHINA Independent variables Level of political interest Unstandardised Standardised Standardised coefficients error coefficients Satisfaction with -0.002 * 0.001 -0.035 policy performance Support for multiparty 0.024 ** 0.008 0.037 system Support for political 0.112 ** 0.010 0.137 reform Life satisfaction 0.071 ** 0.013 0.067 Gender (male = 1, -0.363 ** 0.022 -0.204 female = 2) Age 0.047 ** 0.010 0.059 Education 0.032 ** 0.009 0.044 Party membership -0.241 ** 0.028 -0.106 (CPC member = 1, non-CPC member = 2) Income 0.018 ** 0.004 0.050 Constant 3.911 0.118 Multiple R 0.305 [R.sup.2] 0.093 Adjusted [R.sup.2] 0.092 N = 6,246 * p < .005; ** p < .001.
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|Author:||Zhong, Yang; Hu, Wei|
|Publication:||China: An International Journal|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2013|
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