The Art of Political Control in China

How do autocrats control the countries they govern? More broadly, when and why do people obey authority, even when it runs against their material interests to do so? 

My book project is about the artful ways in which autocrats use repression to encourage obedience with policies that exact heavy personal costs. In it, I examine several remarkable efforts by the Communist Party to control Chinese society, including protest control, land seizures, and the One Child Policy.

I argue that in China local officials use seemingly autonomous social institutions as tools of repression. Officials cultivate local civil society groups, co-opt their leaders, and infiltrate them. These strategies help officials quietly observe, nudge, and co-opt --- and in the process control society without seeming to do so.