Journal of Chinese Political Science

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 361–364 | Cite as

Rory Truex, Making Autocracy Work: Representation and Responsiveness in Modern China

(Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 213pp. $34.99
  • Greg DistelhorstEmail author
Book Review

Why do nondemocracies have democratic-looking political institutions? We can observe parliamentary proceedings in countries like Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Cuba. This dissonance—between political systems clearly designed to inhibit political competition and institutions like legislatures, elections, and opposition parties—has provoked a rich body of research into authoritarian institutions over the last two decades.

The dominant theories to emerge from this agenda have focused on political elites. Authoritarian legislatures have been argued to coopt elites that would otherwise threaten the regime, to provide a forum for negotiating the distribution of power and perquisites among them, or to channel elite opinion into government policymaking [1].

In Making Autocracy Work, Rory Truex develops an alternative perspective on authoritarian parliaments with an entirely different focus: the public. Focusing on China’s National People’s Congress, he argues that authoritarian governments like...


  1. 1.
    Making Autocracy Work summarizes the burgeoning literature on authoritarian legislatures and alternative theoretical perspectives on pages 40–42.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Dimitrov, M.K. 2015. Internal government assessments of the quality of governance in China. Studies in Comparative International Development 50 (1): 50–72 Looking beyond China, he makes similar arguments based on archival research from the Soviet Union and Bulgaria Union.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Lorentzen, P. 2017. Designing Contentious Politics in Post-1989 China. Modern China 43 (5): 459–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Dimitrov 2014. See also Distelhorst, G. and Hou, Y. 2017. Constituency service under nondemocratic rule: Evidence from China. The Journal of Politics, 79(3), 1024–1040.Google Scholar
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    Manion’s (2015) Survey research on local congresses suggests that many Chinese citizens are paying little attention to People’s Congress deputies who serve at the local level. However, the annual political theater around China’s National People’s Congress is hard to miss.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Journal of Chinese Political Science/Association of Chinese Political Studies 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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