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The Resource Mobilisation Cycle: How CSOS Leverage Cultural, Economic, Symbolic and Social Capital - Lessons from China

King's Building, Strand Campus, London

28 Mar
China Map
China map

This paper seeks to close the conceptual gap between a highly dynamic organisational field of Chinese civil society and research on Chinese CSOs, which has struggled to keep up with a rapidly changing landscape in the People’s Republic of China. My co-author and I posit that despite the proliferation of literature on ever increasing sub-sets of Chinese CSOs—working in the organizational fields such as environment, health, education, disaster relief and more—research on China’s civil society overall is falling behind changes on the ground. Furthermore, the status quo is evident in the lack of attempts to bridge the widening gaps between theory and practice in the field of Chinese civil society studies. The following research puzzle is at the heart of our inquiry: How have Chinese CSOs managed to thrive in a third sector  which is both overregulated and underfunded? Specifically, to what extent have Chinese CSOs managed to leverage scarce resources to secure their organizational survival? We draw on Bourdieu’s notion of capital to enrich prevalent paradigms and practices in civil society research. Building upon Bourdieu’s forms of capital and existing literature on Chinese CSOs and beyond, we put forth a framework of four resource pools: global civil society, party-state, private sector, local constituents and local communities. We show that resource mobilisation from any of the four resource pools leads to different kind of political and economic opportunities and dependencies.

Speaker Biography: Jennifer Hsu is currently a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Social Policy at the LSE and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham. She is also an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta. Her research broadly covers state-society and state-NGO relations, and the internationalisation of Chinese NGOs. She has recently commenced a new research project looking at Chinese development assistance in Southeast Asia. She has published in various journals including the Journal of Contemporary ChinaProgress in Development StudiesThe China QuarterlyUrban Studies and Voluntas. Her latest book, State of Exchange: Migrant NGOs and the Chinese Government was recently published with the University of British Columbia Press


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