Politics Against Science: Reflections on the Study of Chinese Politics in Contemporary China

  • Guoguang Wu


In a country where domestic politics had been in command since 1949 and have retained a prominent place in the post-reform era, the study of domestic politics in contemporary China, as opposed to studies of international and foreign-country politics, is, ironically, underdeveloped (MacFarquhar 1997; Robinson 1994). Even insofar as the historical turning point in 1978 that marked the beginning of the post-Mao era of China’s shift of so-called “national focus” from class-struggles to economic development, it seems that few among the Chinese elite feel that there is contradiction or incompatibility with its economy-centered governance when the Chinese regimes repeatedly “emphasize politics” (jiang zhengzhi,讲政治) (Fewsmith 2001; Wu 2001). Politics still prevail in the China that seeks material accomplishments; this does not imply, however, the scholastic accomplishment of the political study in China. Rather, the dominance of politics in social life and its penetrating ramifications in academic studies often prevents, or at the very least impedes, the development of the study of domestic politics from becoming an academic enterprise. How has the study of Chinese politics been able to develop in China during recent decades? Is the study as an academic field of political science able to match the status of China as a political superpower in the world, particularly in comparison to the study of domestic politics in other world powers, such as in the United States? Why is the scholarship of its own national politics underdeveloped while China constantly emphasizes politics, rigorously seeks leadership in world politics, and invests in the promotion of research of sciences? What does this contradiction reveal about our understanding of both political science as an academic discipline and Chinese politics as a subject of scholarly scrutiny? Lastly, what programs would work well to promote the development of the study of Chinese politics in China as a field of political science?


Political Science American Politics Comparative Politics Domestic Politics Political Study 
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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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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