Rightful resistance in rural China

Kevin J. O’BRIEN, Lianjiang LI

Research output: Scholarly Books | Reports | Literary WorksBook (Author)peer-review

1079 Citations (Scopus)


How can the poor and weak ‘work’ a political system to their advantage? Drawing mainly on interviews and surveys in rural China, Kevin O'Brien and Lianjiang Li show that popular action often hinges on locating and exploiting divisions within the state. Otherwise powerless people use the rhetoric and commitments of the central government to try to fight misconduct by local officials, open up clogged channels of participation, and push back the frontiers of the permissible. This ‘rightful resistance’ has far-reaching implications for our understanding of contentious politics. As O'Brien and Li explore the origins, dynamics, and consequences of rightful resistance, they highlight similarities between collective action in places as varied as China, the former East Germany, and the United States, while suggesting how Chinese experiences speak to issues such as opportunities to protest, claims radicalization, tactical innovation, and the outcomes of contention.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages179
ISBN (Electronic)9780511791086
ISBN (Print)9780521861311
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Kevin J. O’Brien and Lianjiang Li 2006.


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