Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China series
Edited by David S.G. Goodman
The study of contemporary Chinese politics: a reader’s guide
This is a primer for the study of China’s politics. It makes no claim to provide the last word on everything political in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) but it does aspire to provide an introduction to most of what the student of China’s politics will need to address, and to point to where that student might go next, not least in terms of the References section and further reading. There is always a need for such introductions but since Mao Zedong died (in 1976) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) adopted a new development strategy (in 1978) that need has become more acute. The changes of the last four decades have seen not only China’s rapid economic growth but also, as a result, an exponential growth in the literature on and related to China’s politics. This introduction to the study of China’s politics interrogates the range of perspectives, synthesizes the arguments, and sorts through the detail. Just as the PRC has changed during the last four decades, so too has the academic world of political studies more generally. The latter have become more methodologically sophisticated and quantitative, and cover a broader range of topics. These trends are also apparent in the study of China’s politics, particularly in the broadening of scope, which was previously largely elite-centred. In part, of course, this change occurred because of greater access to China in general and to source material specifically, as the PRC has become dramatically more open.
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