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The Rise of a Chinese Bourgeoisie and the Potential for Democratic Transition

DRAKE, MICHAEL,JOHN (2012) The Rise of a Chinese Bourgeoisie and the Potential for Democratic Transition. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This project examines the logic of China’s political history and the potential for its democratic political transformation in the 21st century. Using the ideas of Moore and Skocpol the project employs a comparative historical sociology to explain the emergence of the liberal democratic political order in the 18th century western transformations as organized by an emerging bourgeoisie. The end goal of the project is to determine if the creation of a Chinese entrepreneurial class, which does exist in economic terms as a result of market activity and the devolution of state power, can be taken as evidence of an imminent shift into social structure associated with a bourgeoisie that embodies economic, cultural and political power.

The analysis of the western transformations identifies the evolution of a bourgeois culture from the 16th up until the 18th century. The 16th century saw the rise of the rationalization and secularization of the entrepreneur - reason became the standard that would guide society, not the dogmas of traditional authority. The 17th century built on this by emphasizing the importance of property and law – as ways of realizing the newfound philosophical development that emerged in the previous century. Finally, the 18th century witnessed a profound emphasis on the constitutional rule of law and democratic process. These three sets of liberal values – the rise of reason over the dogmas of the state or church; emphasis on property and law; and emphasis on democratic principles and constitutional governance – are the defining features of emergent bourgeois government.

The analysis of the failed eastern transformations reveals how economy and state gravely checked the rise of a bourgeoisie and its transformation of the traditional state. The comprehensive state machinery – such as existed in China and Russia – imposed autocratic constraints on the force of the market and its social attachments and political products. Until social forces could create a space for market organization and property-law within the economic system, the state maintained its autocratic monopoly. In the last 20 years the logic of Moore has been resumed in China, as markets and property have emerged with force and the state system has resiled from its traditionally autocratic role, albeit with property-capturing and law-distorting corruptions. As Moore’s logic once more exerts itself we should see change in China from market organization to property-law to a specific culture as the foundations of bourgeois political transformation.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 09:13

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