Invisible Sky, Visible State: Environmental Governance and Political Support in China
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CitationDing, Iza. 2016. Invisible Sky, Visible State: Environmental Governance and Political Support in China. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractHow do political authorities in China respond to mounting environmental problems? Moreover, on what basis do they succeed in securing public approval in the realm of environmental governance? In this study, I develop answers to these questions using a wide array of qualitative and quantitative evidence, including in-depth interviews with environmental bureaucrats, officials and citizens, participant observation within China’s environmental bureaucracy, and an original national survey on environmental attitudes and behavior spanning 30 Chinese cities. I argue that local authorities perform symbolic responsiveness, defined as language and gestures undertaken by political actors in response to societal demands, as a strategy to manage public opinion over environmental issues. Furthermore, symbolic responsiveness is effective in generating public approval, despite the lack of, and sometimes at the expense of appreciable improvement in environmental quality. My work contributes to the literature on state legitimacy by proposing a theory of “performative legitimacy”: political support derived not from the objective results of governance but the theatrical display of benevolent governance.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33840726
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