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Social conflicts and the origin of local deliberative democracy at Chinese cities

journal contribution
posted on 01.03.2017, 00:00 authored by Baogang HeBaogang He, J Wu
Local deliberative democracy has been developing in both urban and rural China. But why have some cities been more likely to initiate and organize public deliberation than others? Although some scholars have developed a functionalist theory of the rise of deliberative democracy in contemporary China, there are few quantitative studies to map how wide public deliberation has spread across China and to explain why local governments adopt public deliberation. Using public hearings in cities as a form of institutionalization of public deliberation, this paper examines the effect of social conflicts on the institutionalism of public hearings in relation to the number of public hearing documents. We employ various specifications and econometrical methodologies, and use the instrumental variable model to address endogeneity issues. This study finds that social conflict factors are the main determinants of public hearings. Social conflict variables such as public safety spending per capita, transferred land and the number of mass petitions are all positively related to the number of public hearing documents. We suggest that incentives for promotion of government capacity, especially the capacity to address social conflict, is one of the most important drivers for the rise and growth of China’s local public deliberation.



Open times




No. 3


Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences


Guangzhou, China





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

[2017, Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences]