Communist Neo-Traditionalism

Communist Neo-Traditionalism: Work and Authority in Chinese Industry

Andrew G. Walder
Copyright Date: 1986
Pages: 250
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pp18f
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Communist Neo-Traditionalism
    Book Description:

    Based on official Chinese sources as well as intensive interviews with Hong Kong residents formerly employed in mainland factories, Andrew Walder's neo-traditional image of communist society in China will be of interest not only to those concerned with China and other communist countries, but also to students of industrial relations and comparative social science.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-90900-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. x-x)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  7. 1. Communist Neo-Traditionalism: An Introductory Essay
    (pp. 1-27)

    In the wake of the Chinese and Russian revolutions, the twentieth century has witnessed the birth and maturation of a distinctive kind of party-state, a new type of state-led industrialization, and a novel set of political relationships. Of all the varieties of modern authoritarianism, the communist state has been among the most stable, the most thoroughly organized, the most autonomous from organized interests, and the most complete in its reform of prior political and economic arrangements. These party-states have proven adept at implementing a wide variety of social and economic programs, extracting and mobilizing resources for rapid industrial growth, providing...

  8. 2. The Factory as an Institution: Life Chances in a Status Society
    (pp. 28-84)

    The state-owned factory in a communist economy is less an economic enterprise than a social institution. Like its counterparts in competitive market economies, it fabricates products from raw materials and employs labor and capital according to a fixed division of labor. But three features distinguish the communist factory. The first is due to the economics of central planning. The private enterprise exists as long as it can maintain its sales on commodity markets, while keeping its costs low enough to make a profit at a reasonable rate of return on investment. The state enterprise, on the other hand, has what...

  9. 3. The Party-State in the Factory
    (pp. 85-122)

    It is impossible to dispute Seymour Martin Lipset’s contention that “the nature of working class politics has been profoundly influenced by the variations in the historic conditions under which the proletariat entered the political arena” (1983: 1). Arguably the single most important historic condition is the state: not simply an arena in which politics takes place, it is an organization that directly structures political activity and political relationships, defining and enforcing the legitimate. This is true no less for a liberal-democratic regime than for an authoritarian one, and it is true whether one views the state as a relatively autonomous...

  10. 4. Principled Particularism: Moral and Political Aspects of Authority
    (pp. 123-161)

    The Chinese Communist party’s effort to mobilize and incorporate the working class meant that the standards of behavior and thought usually applied solely to party members were extended to the citizenry at large. The broad and sustained application of these standards to the whole population has been a distinctive feature of Chinese communism, and the Chinese have placed their own distinctive emphases on the process of mobilization. The ideological standards for behavior and thought, the demand for unbounded commitment, and the relationships prescribed among people—all are Chinese variations on a common modern theme: social groups whose mutual ties are...

  11. 5. Clientelist Bureaucracy: The Factory Social Order
    (pp. 162-189)

    The Chinese concern for the moral and political education of the workforce, institutionalized in small group organization and in a reward system centered on the evaluation ofbiaoxian,comprises a distinctive variant of generic communist institutions. But the moral political ethic that the party seeks actively to foster proves elusive. The attempt to revitalize and extend the ideological tie through the use of rewards and career incentives itself injects a calculative element into the display of commitment. Just as importantly, the concept ofbiaoxianis itself ambiguous. On the shop floor, commitment to the party’s ideals is displayed through loyalty...

  12. 6. Maoist Asceticism: The Failed Revitalization
    (pp. 190-221)

    The drift toward a stable pattern of clientelism and a subculture of instrumental-personal ties was well advanced by the mid–1960s. These developments were viewed with concern by many party officials. The growth of personal loyalties was making the system of political mobilization less responsive to national leaders and, therefore, less effective as a tool of economic development. At the same time, the wide discretion given leaders in evaluatingbiaoxian,even in the calculation of incentive pay, had obscured the link between reward and work performance. Growth in labor productivity had almost halted since the late 1950S, despite large investments...

  13. 7. From Asceticism to Paternalism: Changes in the Wake of Maoism
    (pp. 222-241)

    In his characteristically outspoken style, the writer Liu Binyan delivers an indictment of Maoist methods that reflects the official assumptions behind China’s recent reforms. The long Chinese experience with moral-political mobilization and the damage wrought by the Maoist attempt at revitalization have had a final unintended consequence: to spur China’s post-Mao leaders to consider fundamental reforms. The industrial failures of Maoism were far more serious than the shortcomings attributed to Stalinist methods in the Soviet Union after the Soviet leader’s death. Even the leadership faction that deposed the Maoist Gang of Four in late 1976—most of them also former...

  14. 8. Theoretical Reflections
    (pp. 242-254)

    In this book I have illustrated a theoretical statement about the nature of communist societies with a study of industrial authority. The comparisons have sharpened my conception of the differences between Chinese and Soviet institutions, but they have also convinced me that they share the same underlying pattern. Much further research needs to be done to test the applicability of this neotraditional image to communist regimes other than China’s and to social settings other than industry. I have been able, through brief comparisons with the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries, to document the generic pattern of dependence better...

  15. Appendix A: The Hong Kong Interviews: An Essay on Method
    (pp. 255-269)
  16. Appendix B: List of Informants
    (pp. 270-272)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 273-294)
  18. Index
    (pp. 295-302)