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POLI 422 - Tsai: Capitalism Without A Class

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Political Science
POLI 422
Juan Wang

TsaiCapitalism Without A Class Political Diversity Among Private Entrepreneurs in ChinaQuestioning the democratic potential of the private sector Structural theories identify two causal links in order for private entrepreneurs to constitute a democratizing force 1 class formation and 2 collective actionArgument class formation has not occurred among private entrepreneurs which poses challenges for collective action Thus democracy resulting from demands by private entrepreneurs is not likelyIntroMany people have predicted democratic change for China as a result of market liberalization However these structural analyses do not single out agents of political change Middle class as a concept is too broad Thus Tsai seeks to focus on a specific actor the private entrepreneur Before asking whether they will become a democratic force it is necessary to ask whether they share a common identity and interests necessary in order for them to become a politically assertive class Tsai argues that they lack this Tsai believes that the occupational background of entrepreneurs is a better indicator of the individuals political interests than their income level In addition entrepreneurs have distinct ways to express discontent Finally due to the diversity between entrepreneurs and local conditions it is incorrect to assume that they will form a democratizing force Unpacking the Capitalist Class Hypothesis for DemocratizationTwo different causal logics voluntarist vs structuralVoluntarist reformist political elites may partner with private enterpreneurs to move for democracyThe strategic formation of political pacts may facilitate democratic transition Capitalists may form enter such alliances if they feel excluded from the regime or if they feel democracy will furtherprotect their material interests However if capitalists are not excluded from the regime and their material interests are no threatened then it is unlike that private entrepreneurs will press for democratic change Structural private entrepreneurs may evolve into a prodemocratic capitalist class Marxist logic of a material basis for class structure and sometimes class formation There is a popular notion of a capitalist class seeking greater property rights and thus leading towards democracy This was exemplified in England the US and
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