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of the bias builds upon a rich body of literature on cadre management and
the fiscal system, and will be good reading for graduate and advanced students.
All in all, the book is a welcome contribution to the literature of rural credits, and
testifies to how much work is still needed on this important subject.

Linda Chelan Li
The City University of Hong Kong

Green Politics in China: Environmental Governance and StateSociety


Relations  CZ +PZ : ;IBOH BOE .JDIBFM #BSS -POEPO 1MVUP 1SFTT 
2013. viii + 159 pp. 54.00/US$99.00/AU$138.00 (hardcover), 17.00/
US$30.00/AU$43.00 (paperback).

Green Politics in China is a timely book that provides a succinct summary of


Chinas statesociety relations in light of the countrys increasingly tense envi-
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Barr set out to examine significant but less talked-about issues (p. 2) by iden-
tifying a series of innovative mobilization strategies (p. 4) at the grass roots.
In doing so, they argue that environmentalists in China are not only good at
negotiating with the state but are also creative in engaging a wide range of audi-
ences. While their case studies shed new light on our understanding of Chinas
environmental movements, their ambition to challenge a static view of state
society relations (p. 16) falls short of expectations. The fluidity of power dynam-
ics in statesociety relations has been well studied in and beyond China Studies,
and the modest arguments found in this book may come as a disappointment
to scholars who have a long-standing interest in Chinas environmental politics.
The book is structured into five chapters, excluding introduction and conclu-
sion. Chapter 1 asks who is to blame for the pollution in China today. It sets the
scene for the rest of the book by moving its discussion from the negotiation of
responsibilities between states (developed countries vs. China) to the search for
environmental liability between state and society. The next two chapters form
a pair, and examine Chinese peoples perceptions of the environment and their
ways of making a difference. Drawing on Bourdieus practice theory, Chapter 2
is an attempt to decipher the social habitus of Chinas green movement, which
in turn generates the actions illustrated in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 explores therela-
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fully as the governments partner, rather than its enemy. The final chapter moves
from the bottom to the top. It analyzes the benefits and drawbacks of two of the
most discussed modes of environmental governance in Chinaenvironmental
Reviews t 177

authoritarianism and fragmented authoritarianismalong with examples of the


governments plan for a circular economy and eco-cities.
Zhang and Barr make a convincing case that seemingly apolitical public en-
gagements are in fact new forms of mobilization with political significance. In
examining the social milieu for popular activities like bird-watching and natu-
ral photography, they urge a reconsideration of what success means in evaluat-
ing Chinas environmental activism. Zhang and Barr contend that it is not the
absence of government approval that incapacitates grassroots actions, but our
institution-centric framework that prematurely invalidates bottom-up contri-
butions (p. 60). Indeed, our tendency to quantify success in terms of policy
impact and the habit of using it as a default benchmark (p. 48) in judging the
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activism. The popularity of bird-watching and natural photography shows that
these are not only strategies to engage indifferent citizens but also ways to trans-
form how people perceive their place and responsibilities in the environment.
Few others devote attention to this aspect of green activism in China.
However, Zhang and Barr could have investigated further the social habitus
that gives rise to the popularity of these activities, especially the historical con-
text. Certainly, compared to confrontational activism, educational campaigns
are not usually in the limelight of Chinese green politics. But are these mobili-
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Chinese have always used poetry and paintings to express their thoughts and
sentiments towards nature. With the advent of the camera, could these activities
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need unpacking.
While the book excels in its analysis of grass-roots activism, the chapters on
Chinas environmental governance are less convincing. Although Zhang and
Barr make it clear that they do not want to take sides or rehearse environmen-
tal authoritarianism in detail, this concept deserves more critical analysis. They
seem to agree that, in theory, environmental authoritarianism would work if
power were in the hands of an enlightened group of capable and uncorrupted
lites (pp. 45, 109), but what they do not question is the fundamental premise of
environmental authoritarianism: whether or not this small group of technocrats
would actually be capable of solving the environmental crisis in China, given the
stark variations between regions.
The case studies discussed in Green Politics in China present a dynamic pic-
ture of political participation in Chinas environmental politics. They provide
valuable insights into the study of embedded activism and environmental move-
ments in todays Chinese societies. However, the chapter on the benefits and
drawbacks of Chinas political system warrants more critical analysis, and the ar-
guments could have been strengthened by referring to the case studies discussed
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JOFBSMJFSDIBQUFST0WFSBMM UIPVHI Green Politics in China is an excellent intro-


duction for those interested in the subject; I also recommend it highly to univer-
sity teachers for their courses on Chinas environment.

Loretta Iengtak Lou


Oxford University

Organizing Rural ChinaRural China Organizing, edited by Ane Bislev


and Stig Thgersen. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2012. viii + 240 pp.
US$65.00/39.95 (hardcover), US$64.99/39.95 (eBook).

This edited collection represents research into the social and political organiza-
tion of rural China conducted by a network of mainly Scandinavian and Chinese
scholars between 2008 and 2011. The project investigated whether the institu-
tions that govern rural life can underpin socially coherent communities that are
both responsive to the states interests and able to follow a modernizing develop-
ment trajectory. The title of the collection expresses the idea that some actors ap-
proach rural China from outside (top-down organizing) even as other actors are
internal to rural society (bottom-up organizing). The introduction, by Ane Bislev
and Stig Thgersen, lays out this problematic and the insideoutside division of
views about it. There follow the results of the research project, 11 detailed studies
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Unger, who underlines the continuities in political organization of rural China
since the revolution, and Vivienne Shue, who provides the conclusion.
The first set of studies examines outsiders views of the institutions of rural
life and their actions to remedy the supposed defects in those institutions. The
principal outsider is, of course, the Party-state; its interests are inensuringru-
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taining the conditions for continued capitalist industrial expansion (supplies of
food and of rural migrant labor of appropriate quality). State officials and aca-
demics both fear that failed villages, socially fragmented and only poorly mod-
ernized, will become more common as social life becomes more individualized
under the forces of the market; such villages are described in the chapter by Liu
Yiqiang. Debates about these issues in China are constrained by rules about
what can be said (the subject of Thgersens chapter), but oscillate between blam-
ing local cadres for rural problems and emphasizing the need for social unity
as the key to development. This latter is the concern of Christian Gbels chapter.
Material processes of state intervention include sending down cadres to bring
modern, rational modes of behavior into towns and villages (the contradictions
of this are explored by Mlfrid Rolandsen), as well as experiments in building