Engagement Under Authoritarian Rule: Political Participation of Muslim Minorities in China
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CitationGuan, Yichen. 2019. Engagement Under Authoritarian Rule: Political Participation of Muslim Minorities in China. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractWhile Chinese ethnic minorities are commonly viewed as possessing different political attitudes and patterns of political behavior from the Han majority, how exactly they engage in political participation and why has not been well studied. This investigation attempts to unpack ethnic political participation in China both theoretically and empirically. By analyzing the political behavior of Muslim minorities, as represented mainly by the Uyghur and the Hui, and comparing their behavior with that of the Han, I argue that risk perception plays a crucial role in shaping individuals’ attitudes toward political participation, their actual level of political activism, and their preference for modes of participation. Specifically, I exploit a large-scale survey and two survey experiments to show that the Uyghurs are embedded in a risk-minimization equilibrium in which political participation is perceived as a highly risky act rather than an effective tool to articulate political interests. As a result, they engage in political participation less often than the Han or the Hui, and when they do participate, they prefer indirect, individual, and formal modes. The Han and the Hui, on the other hand, perceive political participation as a low-cost, high-benefit means of meeting their political and social demands. As such, they are more willing to engage in politics and when they engage, they tend to prefer direct, collective, and informal channels as they are generally more effective in stimulating government response and policy changes. Finally, I identify a channel that alters the Uyghurs’ cost-benefit calculation for political participation. Once they are exposed to materials of national propaganda, they develop a salient national identity and a strong sense of duty both for the Chinese nation and the community in which they live, leading to more active political participation and bolder pursuit of their interest.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42013105
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