Catalogue


After the propaganda state : media, politics, and "thought work" in reformed China /
Daniel C. Lynch.
imprint
Stanford, CA : Stanford University Press, c1999.
description
viii, 327 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0804734615 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Stanford, CA : Stanford University Press, c1999.
isbn
0804734615 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
3149872
 
Includes bibliographical references.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Daniel C. Lynch is Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Southern California.
Excerpts
Flap Copy
This book argues that a combination of property rights reform, administrative fragmentation, and technological advance has caused the post-Mao Chinese state to lose a significant degree of control over "thought work," or the management of propagandistic communications flowing into and through Chinese society. The East Asian economic meltdown of the late 1990's has reinforced the conviction, derived from Communism's nearly worldwide collapse a decade earlier, that the only path to sustained prosperity combines an openness to trade and investment with market economies that are minimally impinged upon by state intervention. But, the author argues, the situations in China demonstrates that the political, social, and cultural costs of "reform and opening" are high. Notably, the construction of culture in China has fallen into the hands of lower-level government administrators, semiautonomous individuals and groups in society, and foreign-based public and private organizations. Contrary to the prevailing neo-liberal wisdom, however, this transformation has not generated a Habermasian public sphere and an autonomous civil society that will lead China inevitably toward democracy. Instead, the immediate result has been "public sphere praetorianism," a condition in which the construction of culture becomes excessively market-oriented without being directed toward the achievement of public political goals. The case of China shows that under such conditions, a society is set adrift and rudderless, with its members unable or unwilling to channel their energies toward the resolution of pressing public concerns, and communication flows dissolve into a patternless mosaic. True, the flows are much less constrained by government than ever beforean important precondition for democratization. But the short-term effect is actually an enervating depoliticizationeven narcotizationof society, while the state itself paradoxically continues to lose control.
Flap Copy
This book argues that a combination of property rights reform, administrative fragmentation, and technological advance has caused the post-Mao Chinese state to lose a significant degree of control over "thought work," or the management of propagandistic communications flowing into and through Chinese society. The East Asian economic meltdown of the late 1990's has reinforced the conviction, derived from Communism's nearly worldwide collapse a decade earlier, that the only path to sustained prosperity combines an openness to trade and investment with market economies that are minimally impinged upon by state intervention. But, the author argues, the situations in China demonstrates that the political, social, and cultural costs of "reform and opening" are high. Notably, the construction of culture in China has fallen into the hands of lower-level government administrators, semiautonomous individuals and groups in society, and foreign-based public and private organizations. Contrary to the prevailing neo-liberal wisdom, however, this transformation has not generated a Habermasian public sphere and an autonomous civil society that will lead China inevitably toward democracy. Instead, the immediate result has been "public sphere praetorianism," a condition in which the construction of culture becomes excessively market-oriented without being directed toward the achievement of public political goals. The case of China shows that under such conditions, a society is set adrift and rudderless, with its members unable or unwilling to channel their energies toward the resolution of pressing public concerns, and communication flows dissolve into a patternless mosaic. True, the flows are much less constrained by government than ever before--an important precondition for democratization. But the short-term effect is actually an enervating depoliticization--even narcotization--of society, while the state itself paradoxically continues to lose control.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2000-01-01:
It is a truism that communist regimes dominate sociopolitical and economic institutions, thus destroying whatever elements of a "civil society" may have existed prior to the communist takeover. Rebuilding these institutions, as communist authority wanes or collapses, is difficult. There is a strong possibility that such regimes will give way, not to democracies, but to "kleptocracies." Lynch (Univ. of California, Los Angeles) looks at the declining party control of media and telecommunications and despairs for China's future. Institutions arising are too often crime- and corruption-related. The party still prevents pluralistic organizations from providing legitimate input into national policy formulation. The weakness of this book is its overreliance on the role of communications in explaining these phenomena. Why not look at the Communist Party itself? Democratization in China and Taiwan, by Bruce Dickson (1997), examines the ways in which the Nationalist Party in Taiwan--which was Leninist in organization--transformed itself into a democratic party. Dickson goes on to explain the failures of the Communist Party in China to do likewise. The Lynch book is also difficult reading, but libraries wishing to build their communications collection will find it worthwhile for graduate students and faculty. H. Nelsen; University of South Florida
Reviews
Review Quotes
"For anyone who is interested in the development of China's mass media within the last 25 years."-- Berline China-Glefte
This item was reviewed in:
Reference & Research Book News, November 1999
Choice, January 2000
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Back Cover Copy
"For anyone who is interested in the development of China's mass media within the last 25 years."Berline China-Glefte
Back Cover Copy
"For anyone who is interested in the development of China's mass media within the last 25 years."--Berline China-Glefte
Bowker Data Service Summary
This book argues that property rights reform, administrative fragmentation and technological advances have caused China to lose control over 'thought work', or propagandist communications flowing into and through Chinese society.
Table of Contents
Abbreviationsp. xiii
"Thought Work" in the Praetorian Public Spherep. 1
Thought-Work Institutions Under Reformp. 18
The Commercialization of Thought Workp. 53
The Globalization of Thought Workp. 105
The Pluralization of Thought Workp. 139
The Struggle to Reassert Controlp. 176
Thought Work and the Transition from Authoritarian Rulep. 224
Notesp. 241
Bibliographyp. 283
Indexp. 321
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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