“Civil society” development and transformation of authoritarian regimes

Workshop organized by Chloé Froissart (Rennes 2 University, CECMC) and Anthony J. Spires (The Chinese University of Hong Kong) under the PROCORE France-Hong-Kong joint research program, the Center for Research on Modern and Contemporary China, School for Higher Studies in Social Sciences and the Asia- Pacific Research and Expertise Network.

  • Friday, February 15, 2013
  • Room 640, block A, EHESS 190-198 avenue de France 75013 Paris

The development of social organizations and protest movements is one of the outstanding phenomena of the transformation of authoritarian regimes such as China and Cuba, but also of newly “democratized” countries whose institutional modes of functioning remain chiefly authoritarian, such as Russia. Beyond the ambiguity of the term “civil society” exported from twenty years by the actors of international cooperation, this workshop will investigate citizen mobilization to defend the rights of other citizens and how it serves to transform authoritarian regimes from within.
We propose to overcome divisions between a deterministic perspective, which has long prevailed in political science -that of transitology- and a purely sociological perspective only focused on practices and discourses of social actors, to take into account the relationship between the social and the political. Following authors like Dabène, Camau and Massardier1 who focus on regime hybridity, we’ll try to think through how elements of democracy and authoritarianism co-exist in a particular political system. By questioning the opposition between democratic and authoritarian regimes, often regarded as irreconcilable, we take into account the process of democratization within authoritarian regimes and focus reflection on the modes of adaptation and transformation of this type of regime.
How, in the light of collective action, in particular the essential dimension of the organization, can we analyze operating modes of authoritarian regimes and thus attempt to define their nature? Three areas will be investigated. First, the relationship between social organizations and the state: beyond the evolution of the legal framework, we focus on the actual practices of social actors to illuminate conflicts and arrangements that form between the representatives of the State and those of the non-governmental realm. Second, the use of law as a new mobilization resource and how it promotes (or not) political pluralism and new forms of representation. Third, the relationship between political socialization, mobilization and participation. Finally, the workshop will conclude with a reflection on how we can understand the nature of authoritarian regimes by the study of collective action.


9:00-­‐9:30: Introduction : Chloé Froissart, Anthony J. Spires : Thinking mobilization and organization in authoritarian context : a comparative perspective

I. Rethinking organizations’ relation to the state

9:30-­‐10:00 : Ji Yingying, Chinese University of Hong Kong, The recent development of Chinese GONGOs : Evidence from Beijing and Zhejiang
10:00-­‐10:30 : Joseph Y. Cheng, City University of Hong Kong, The Survival and Development space for China’s Labor NGOs. Informal politics and its uncertainty.
10:30-­‐45 : discussion 10:45-­‐11:00: Coffee break

II. Democratic practices and mobilization

11:00-­‐11:30 : Anthony J. Spires, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Establishing a Democratic Culture in Chinese NGOs?
11:30-­‐12:00 : Xu Yi, Hong Kong Polytechnique University, Mobilizing rural migrant workers in China : a perspective from labor
12:00-­‐12:30 : Séverine Arsène, LCP/ CNRS, Is this collective action ? The ambivalence of online participation in Chin
12:30-­‐45: discussion

III. Mobilizing the law in authoritarian context

14:00-­‐14:30 : Chloé Froissart, Université Rennes 2, EHESS, Using the law as a « harmonious weapon » : investigating legal activism among rights groups supporting migrant workers in China
14:30-­‐15:00 : Agnès Blais, EHESS, Russian NGOs enacting human rights in their fight against racism
15:00-­‐15:30 : discussion 15 :30-­‐15:45 : coffee break

IV. Redefining authoritarianism

15:45-­‐16 :15 : Françoise Daucé, Université Blaise-­‐Pascal, EHESS, Russia : The civility of authoritarianism
16:15-­‐ 16:45 : Marie-­‐Laure Geoffray, IHEAL-­‐Paris 3, Contentious movements, NICTs and social change within an authoritarian regime, the Cuban case
16:45-­‐17:15 : Kin-­‐man Chan, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Trust towards Civil Society in China
17:15-­‐17:30 : discussion -­‐ 17:30-­‐ 45: coffee break
17:45-­‐18:30 : Synthesis and debate: What can collective action and organization tell us about authoritarian regimes?

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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