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Constructive Noncompliance

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Does widespread citizen noncompliance always delegitimize state authority and endanger regime stability? The evidence presented in this paper suggests that some noncompliant behaviors may actually be intended to communicate policy feedback and constructive criticism about the fit between policies and local conditions. In order to improve our understanding of these phenomena, the paper develops the concept of “constructive noncompliance,” situating it within a typology of political action and illustrating it empirically using original qualitative and quantitative data from the case of rural China. By distinguishing constructive noncompliance from other forms of resistance, this paper shows that not all forms of noncompliance indicate low legitimacy or state capacity and lays the foundation for examining how different types of political action may affect policy formation, government use of coercion, the political attitudes of citizens, and their propensity for future action.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2015-04-01

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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