Mertha – Fragmented Authoritarianism 2.0
Argument: policy-making process still captured in fragmented
authoritarianism framework, but the process has become increasingly
“Media coverage suggested a new, unofficial 'model citizen': individuals like
Wu Ping who were willing to hold the state accountable in protecting the
private property of its citizens.”
Pluralization of policy-making: otherwise marginalized officials, NGOs, and
activists have managed to “wriggle their way into the policy-making process
and even help shape policy outcomes.
They have succeeded in part because they have understood and accepted
the general rules of the game of policy making under the rubric of
This framework, proposed in 1988, remains the most durable framework for
understanding Chinese politics.
FA: policy made at centre becomes increasingly malleable as it is
disseminated down to localities, as it is subjected to political goals of various
agencies and regions. “Outcomes are shaped by the incorporation of
interests of the implementation agencies into the policy itself.”
Thus, FA sees policy-making as incremental changes resulting from
Mertha argues that previously-marginalized actors have successfully entered
this FA framework.
“The point of entry is through the agency slack that results from the inability
of institutions to adapt sufficiently to rapid socio-economic change, the
aggressive lobbying of pressure groups, or the changing expectations of the
Def: “advocates for proposals or for the prominence of an idea:” they display
“willingness to invest their resources—time, energy, reputation, and
sometimes money—in the hope of a future return ... in the form of policies of
which they approve.” Fragmented political system gives space for these policy entrepreneurs to
operate without being snuffed out by state coercion.
“The political dynamics captured in the fragmented authoritarianism
framework provide policy entrepreneurs with a road map, a playbook by
which they can pursue their policy goals. They adopt strategies that
traditional actors in China have used for decades.”
1) Officials opposed to given policy
Often due to their organizational mandate. Their portfolio gives degree of
Growing progressivism among journalists and media fueled by growing need
for media to generate own revenue (leads to need for advertising; leads to
need for readership; leads to need for, well, journalism.)
Success of NGO can be partially explained by the fact that a large
percentage of their staff and officers were trained as journalists or editors,
giving them a close relationship with the media.
Some have argued that they are better positioned to challenge the state
than NGOs were in the Soviet Union and Communist Europe, because those
bodies had to work from within the party-sate structure.
Policy entrepreneurs (PE) interpret events in new ways to attract support.
They use two strategies:
PE link and assemble events to create a persuasive narrative offering a fresh
perspective on an issue. They may use symbols packaged to advance certain
points of view.
PE identify core components of issues to draw out a definitive narrative. They
may use reference to historical antecedents, metaphors, analogies, and images.
These framing techniques are important for a few reasons:
− shows growing ability of critical reporting in Chinese media
− show media ability to undermine Beijing's monopoly on spin
− reveals role of NGO in spearheading media assault
− demonstrates intimate link between media, centre, localities, and
− expands sphere of political conflict by transforming previously
irrelevant actors into potential allies, or adversaries
Furthermore, 'state framing' (propaganda) has met with mixed success in the
reform era. Much of this is t