This paper addresses discussions about neoliberalism in China in six steps. First, it critiques the debate between Harvey (2005) and Ong (2006) over the “strange case” of neoliberalism in China as well as the variegated neoliberalization literature. Second, it suggests how a cultural political economy perspective can mediate between abstract-simple and concrete-complex analyses by posing three meso-level questions. Third, these questions enable the combination of ordoliberal and authoritarian turns to examine cases in the non-Western contexts where sovereign, disciplinary, and biopolitical power can coexist and coevolve. Fourth, it suggests the concept of ordoliberal authoritarian governance to examine the case of China since Deng’s opening to the world market in 1978. These governing techniques and strategies can strengthen national growth but also generate unevenness and inequalities. Fifth, it notes the intensification of social unrest and the rise of a new subaltern resistance identity of Diaosi as well as attempts by the party, under President Xi, to regain control. Sixth, some concluding remarks are offered on the cultural political economy perspective on variegation and the heuristic potential of the ordoliberal and authoritarian turns in examining variegated neoliberalization/ordoliberalization in non-Western settings.
Ordoliberal Authoritarian Governance in China since 1978: World Market, Performance Legitimacy, and Biosovereign Ordering
Ngai-Ling Sum is a reader in cultural political economy in the Politics, Philosophy and Religion Department and Co-director (with Bob Jessop) of the Cultural Political Economy Research Centre in Lancaster University. She has research interests in cultural (international) political economy; Marx, Gramsci, and Foucault; BRICs; and China. She was awarded (with Jessop) the Gunnar Myrdal Prize by the European Association of Evolutionary Political Economics for their coauthored book, Beyond the Regulation Approach (2006). In 2013, she and Jessop coauthored a companion volume titled Towards a Cultural Political Economy. She publishes in journals like Economy and Society, Critical Policy Studies, and Development Dialogue, and has contributed book chapters to many edited collections.
Ngai-Ling Sum; Ordoliberal Authoritarian Governance in China since 1978: World Market, Performance Legitimacy, and Biosovereign Ordering. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 April 2019; 118 (2): 381–400. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-7381206
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