Flexible Governance: Petition, Disputes and Citizen’s Rights Protection in Contemporary China
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Blamed as a major threat to an effective judiciary, Xinfang not only often fails to resolve social disputes between the petitioners and the Party-state in the authoritarian regime but also exacerbates the conflict. Using two cases of Shanghai, this chapter shows that the innovative mechanism of involving petition social workers (PSWs) in settling disputes is a kind of “flexible governance” (FG) stressing affective care and the use of multi-pronged means of dispute resolution to relieve petition pressure and maintain social stability by the authoritarian state. Facing the surge and intensification of social conflict in recent years, “flexible governance” reflects the corporatist relations between social organizations and the local state with the state’s intensive political control over the society.
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