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“Reenvisioning State Power” by Lynette Ong
February 23, 2022 @ 9:00 am – 10:00 am JST
Author: Lynette Ong (Toronto)
Abstract: How do states repress society and legitimate their rule at the same time? Given the inherent trade-off between state repression and legitimacy, this paper addresses this theoretical puzzle by proposing a strategy of repression through social brokers. I examine three different types of brokers – political, social, and economic – and the conditions under which they help to legitimate state repression. Notably, nonstate social brokers who conduct persuasion – by drawing on their social capital with network members – are the most effective in reconciling the repression-legitimacy trade-off. Repression intermediated by social brokers complicit to state’s actions powerfully alter citizen’s perception of what constitutes repression, and the contours of state power are reconfigured accordingly to its advantage. This research illustrates these arguments drawing on case studies of the Chinese state’s gaining of community consent to contentious demolition projects through brokered persuasion. It contributes to literatures on state power, repression, and autocratic legitimation.