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Studies in Comparative International Development

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 84–109 | Cite as

Associations in the Embrace of an Authoritarian State: State Domination of Society?

  • Kenneth W. Foster
Articles

Abstract

According to conventional wisdom, associations that are closely linked with and penetrated by an authoritarian state are significant chiefly as symbols of state domination of society. Yet a review of empirical evidence suggests that the nature and significance of incorporated or co-opted associations varies much more widely than the conventional perspective suggests. Not only are close association-state linkages sometimes looked upon favorably by societal participants, but some independent societal associations actually seek to be co-opted by an authoritarian state. Moreover, incorporated associations often have more to do with strategies by state agencies and officials to accomplish parochial goals than with state efforts to control society. This article elucidates a new analytical perspective for understanding the dynamics and functioning of incorporated associations, citing a wide range of empirical cases to show how this perspective facilitates a better understanding of the kinds of state-society engagement that occur within and through incorporated associations. The article concludes with a brief analysis of associations in contemporary China that builds on the preceding discussion, illuminating the importance of local-level interactions in determining the character of incorporated associations.

Keywords

Civil Society State Center Comparative International Development Authoritarian Regime Business Association 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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  • Kenneth W. Foster

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