Tongtong Zhang

Stanford University, Postdoc at Stanford Internet Observatory
February 22, 2023 9-10:00AM JST
Coauthors and affiliations
Yingjie Fan (Princeton University, PhD Student in Politics), Jennifer Pan (Stanford University, Professor in Communication)
gender, political compliance, Confucius Institutes, China, interviews, survey experiment
What role does gender play in political behavior under authoritarian rule? Existing research on gender and politics has primarily focused on political participation in democratic contexts. In this paper, we show gendered difference in political compliance, the key form of political behavior for authoritarian stability. Using interviews, a global survey, and experimental methods, we show how the Chinese regime prescribes objectives but do not specify how subjects should behave to fulfill those objectives to regulate the behavior of teachers of Confucius Institutes, China’s language and culture promotion program that has been accused of exporting Chinese government propaganda and censorship. Given these ambiguous rules from the regime on what behavior is permissible, we find that women and men Confucius Institute teachers all exhibit political compliance but engage in divergent behaviors to comply. Women express their compliance by using uncensored discussions to persuade host country students to the Chinese regime’s point of view. In contrast, men comply by parroting the regime's claims and censoring classroom discussion. Open-ended responses in the experiment suggest that these gendered expressions of political compliance are related to the different social expectations women and men face in China. Strikingly, this significant difference in compliance we observe is limited to gender, and not detected for other individual-level characteristics such as age, education, or political party affiliation.
Registration link
Gender and Political Compliance under Authoritarian Rule