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Title: Positive sum reciprocal engagement between China's grassroots NGOs and the local state
Author: May, Farid
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis explores state-society relations in China by focusing on the interactions between grassroots NGOs and local government departments. It presents the notion of positive-sum reciprocal engagement as one form of relationship that can emerge between the state and social organizations. Such engagement can be characterized as a dynamic and interactive process implying proximity, communication, joint action, mutual influence, mutual benefit and mutual empowerment, resulting in added value for society. Drawing on fieldwork carried out in six rural or semi-rural Chinese localities, including interviews and questionnaires with local government departments and indigenous grassroots NGOs, this study seeks to identify the conditions under which positive-sum reciprocal engagement is likely to emerge. It finds that the presence of reformist officials, the strengthening of NGO capacity in framing issues to open social spaces and to engage in effective action while communicating the results of such action are particularly important to establishment of reciprocal engagement. Significant structural or contextual factors include positive associational experience and openness in the locality. This study also explores the extent to which grassroots NGOs are able to affect the formulation and implementation of policy at the local level, and finds policy influence to be one of the significant outcomes of positive-sum reciprocal engagement. One mechanism through which policy influence occurs is in the context of a mass-line model of communication, in which NGOs participate in discourses on social issues and act as channels for the conveyance of policy information and suggestions. Grassroots NGOs are also able to model innovations and contribute to policy formulation and reform in carrying out concrete programs, which is made possible by an environment characterized by policy flexibility and amenable to experimental points.
Supervisor: Vivienne, Shue Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Asia ; Local Government ; Public policy ; Social services; associations ; China ; NGOs ; development