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The Discourse of Formalism and Bureaucratism: The Contest of Order Within the Party

  • Shaoying Zhang
  • Derek McGhee
Chapter
Part of the Politics and Development of Contemporary China book series (PDCC)

Abstract

This chapter will examine various tensions within the Party that in combination forms the discursive field of formalism and bureaucratism. In this process, we will critically examine how “desirable working styles” and “undesirable working styles” are being articulated. As we explore below, all of these problems are closely associated with the current Party structure, which we suggest is a virtuecratic-like political system. Unlike the problem of corruption as explored in Chaps.  4 and  5, with which the authority of the Party is taken as a referent object, the problem of the “four undesirable working styles” refers to the dysfunctions within the hierarchical order of the Party (which is perceived as another symptom of the Party’s moral ecology). These problems although not punishable by law are being tackled by the Party’s disciplinary mechanisms through the introduction of a series of prohibitions.

In this process, the politics of fear and uncertainty that is generated by the anti-corruption campaign (as we show in Chaps.  4 and  5) is becoming combined with the problematization of the hierarchical order that is seen as problems inherent in the processes of policy making (bureaucratism) and policy implementation (formalism) within the Party. It is believed that when the authority of the Party is legitimized through anti-corruption, the hierarchical order within the Party can thus be stabilized. All of this is done in the name of improving the Party’s moral ecology. In this discursive field, normative power works on the communist officials by representing them as both the agents of the Party (that produces the problems of formalism and bureaucratism through their work) and as individual subjects (who live hedonistically and extravagantly in their private life as we will explore in Chap.  7). As a result, the problem of collective morality is fundamentally linked to the problem of individual ethics, that is, the construction of the integrity of the subject in the name of eradiating corruption and also “undesirable working styles.” It is this complex system of power that enables different modes of power (sovereign, disciplinary and biopolitical) to operate across the Party and among subjects (at various levels from the macro to the micro). Thus, the relationship between sovereignty, morality and ethics is being simultaneously articulated by the Party through interdependent processes.

Keywords

Provincial Government Party Member Hierarchical Order County Government General Office 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shaoying Zhang
    • 1
  • Derek McGhee
    • 2
  1. 1.Shanghai University of Political Science and LawShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of Sociology, Social Policy, CriminologyUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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