Adaptation of a political bureaucracy to economic and institutional change under socialism: The Chinese state family planning system
In China, the transformation from a centrally planned economy to one dominated by market forces has been characterized by the devolution of authority from the center (Beijing) to localities. This is as true of the enormous stale bureaucracy associated with the control of fertility as it is with the economic bureaucracies more often studied in transitional societies. Using observations from several field sites, the authors document how county-, township- and village-level family planning cadres have gone from being agents of the state to autonomous actors who must negotiate between the ongoing demands of the central bureaucracy and the new opportunities available in the locales in which they work and dwell. They suggest that any serious change in the draconian restrictions on fertility that have obtained in China for almost thirty years is likely to derive from initiatives at the local level. Local actors (cadres) have already begun to adjust to the tensions between responsibilities and available resources that have tended to induce paralysis in the upper levels of this long-standing state bureaucracy.
Merli, MG; Qian, Z; Smith, HL
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