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William Hurst is Associate Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University, where his work focuses on dimensions of Chinese and Indonesian politics including: political economy, social movements and contentious politics, labour politics, and the politics of law and legal institutions. He is the author of The Chinese Worker after Socialism (Cambridge 2009) and Ruling Before the Law: The Politics of Legal Regimes in China and Indonesia (Cambridge 2018).

Blandness, Bathos, or Brashness? Choosing Pathways to Validity and Relevance for Chinese Politics Research

The study of Chinese politics and society has reached a crossroads. A year ago I called for scholars to eschew exclusive focus on the current ‘methods arms race’ and engage in more cross-national comparative analysis to bring the study of Chinese politics out of isolation (Hurst 2018). Upon further reflection, however, it seems the choice we face is actually more complex and nuanced. Two shifts have changed the way we must approach data collection and left us with three main alternatives: blandness, bathos, and brashness.

William Hurst on Ruling Before the Law

It is often assumed that the law in China, as in many other developing countries, is weak or unimportant. In his new book Ruling Before the Law: The Politics of Legal Regimes in China and Indonesia (Cambridge University Press, 2018), William Hurst offers a compelling comparative study of legal regimes in China and Indonesia to […]

The Abolition of the Two-term Limit: A Sea Change?

On 25 February, almost at the same moment his visage appeared on screen at the Closing Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Korea, Xi Jinping made a play to keep himself at the centre of Chinese politics for many years to come. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced that it would advise the repeal of term limits for the President and Vice President from Article 79 of China’s 1982 Constitution. On 11 March, the National People’s Congress duly voted to codify the changes…

Treating What Ails the Study of Chinese Politics

For almost as long as political science has existed as a discipline, the study of Chinese politics has been afflicted with a chronic disease. Depending on one’s perspective, this malady’s manifestations have amounted to either neglected isolation or arrogant exceptionalism. To treat this illness, it is important to set aside any rigid orthodoxy and resort to diversity and bold experimentation.

The Chinese Working Class: Made, Unmade, in Itself, for Itself, or None of the Above?

China’s working class dwarfs those of all other countries. It has undergone several rounds of momentous and wrenching change over the past hundred years—from early industrialisation and urban growth, through the Japanese invasion and the Second World War, to the 1949 Chinese Communist Party (CCP) takeover and Maoist Era mobilisation, the advent of reform and […]

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