Building on previous scholarship which has highlighted unique features of Chinese NGOs (often referred to as GONGOs) and social relationships (called Guanxi), we wonder whether the influence of organizational and interpersonal networks on Chinese political participation is also distinct from the West. In other words, this paper aims to explore the mechanisms through which social networks affect political participation in China and test the context-effects of such influences. In China, there are different forms of recognized political participation, some of which are encouraged by the government, such as grassroots-level voting, some are discouraged, such as petitioning. Through comparative analysis of the influence of organizational involvement and interpersonal relationship on different forms of political participation, this research project identifies both social construction and political mobilization as causal mechanisms. The findings based on CGSS 2005 survey data indicate that organizational involvement is positively correlated with both voting and petitioning participation. Such high coherence indicates that organizational involvement fosters individual political consciousness, which confirms the social construction effect of social organizations and coincides with findings from other countries. The results suggest that social organizations in China are less effective in constraining individual political participation than they are intended to be. Thus, besides focusing on the debates about whether Chinese social organizations are best understood through the respective lenses of civil society or state corporatism, it seems that we should pay more attention to the further consequences of personal involvement in social organizations. Furthermore, we also find that interpersonal networks positively affect grassroots-level voting (encouraged by the government) but negatively affect petitioning participation (discouraged by the government), which implies that interpersonal networks serve as channels of political mobilization for state interests. As China turned from a totalitarian society to a more plural society, social control of the state lessened significantly. Thus, there was also less direct control over social organizations and, in order to maintain a low-cost political mobilization system, local officials had to use interpersonal relationships to achieve policy objectives. Compared to Western societies, China's interpersonal network resources are generally seen as particularly rich, which makes them an effective tool in political mobilization. Taking this particular social context into account provides for a better understanding of the causal effects of both the social construction within organizational networks as well as political mobilization through interpersonal networks on Chinese political participation. Moreover, in this research we find a significant reinforcement interaction effect of organizational involvement and interpersonal networks on participation in elections. Building on the existing research on the interaction effect of multiple networks, which generally posits that the influence of interpersonal networks depends on organizational membership, our study goes a step further and offers a model of two separate networks and a more universally applicable interaction model of multiple networks concerning individual political participation. In summary, the findings of this study extend our understanding of the main effects and underlying mechanisms of social networks on political participation in the Chinese context. While offering policy implications for the Chinese government, this research also makes a theoretical contribution to political participation theory by introducing context effects of social networks.
吴结兵 沈台凤 宋程成. 社会建构还是资源动员？——社团卷入与人际关系影响我国公民政治参与的网络机制研究[J]. 浙江大学学报(人文社会科学版), 2015, 1(5): 144-158.
Wu JiebingShen Taifeng Song Chengcheng. Social Construction or Political Mobilization? The Influence of Organizational Involvement and Interpersonal Relationship on Political Participation in China. JOURNAL OF ZHEJIANG UNIVERSITY, 2015, 1(5): 144-158.