Dingxin Zhao 趙鼎新
NTU & HYI Academic Book Series No. 3
National Taiwan University Press, December 2017
About the book: This book argues that state power can only be legitimized in three ideal-typical ways: a set of values that a state is upholding (ideological legitimacy), recognized political processes such as regular competitive election (procedural legitimacy), or capacity of public goods provision (performance legitimacy). Different foundations of state legitimacy structure people’s expectations of the state differently. If people are committed to an ideology that a state is upholding, the state will gain capacity but the chance for that state to bring the country to a wrong direction may also run high. If the power of a state rests primarily on a state’s capacity to provide public goods, people will act instrumentally and the state has to deliver good performance to a demanding public to maintain its rule. If political procedures become the chief basis of state legitimacy, politics will be conducted orderly, but even the most terrible political decision or leadership selection will be regarded as legitimate if the deliberation follows recognized procedures.
Based on this theory, the author has analyzed different aspects of Chinese politics, from the rising importance of performance legitimacy in Chinese history, the patterns of factional struggle during the Cultural Revolution, the tragic ending of the 1989 pro-democracy movement, the weak development of mass-based nationalism in post-Mao China, the reasons behind China’s economic success, the anti-establishment tendency of the Chinese mass media and social media, to the sources of political tension in China despite of a superb economy. The wide applicability of the theory shows a great potential of the state legitimacy perspective, especially in comparison with the value-laden democracy/authoritarian analysis currently popular in sociology and political science.
About the NTU & HYI Academic Series: The book series, published by National Taiwan University Press, is a collaboration between the Harvard-Yenching Institute and the College of Liberal Arts of National Taiwan University. The Series publishes scholarly monographs in Chinese which make a major original contribution to the humanities and social sciences. Interdisciplinary studies are especially welcome. Submissions are encouraged from all Chinese-speaking regions and beyond. For more information about the NTU-HYI series, please visit the NTU Press website.