Lily Tsai - Associate Professor of Political Science, MIT
Noncompliance with government policies and regulations is often interpreted as a way of evading state authority and undermining its legitimacy. The evidence presented in this article suggests that some noncompliance behaviors may actually be intended to communicate citizen preferences, contribute constructively to the policy process, and ultimately reinforce state authority. The article proposes a model of regime-reinforcing noncompliance to improve our understanding of how individuals in nondemocratic and transitional systems may try to influence political decision-making and policy processes when traditional forms of exit or voice are not available. By identifying the key characteristics of this type of unconventional political behavior, the article enlarges the literature on compliance and political behavior and improves our conceptual framework for understanding the full array of “voice” employed by individuals who have few formal political resources. To examine this phenomenon, the article combines original data from a nationally representative survey of 2000 households in China with a series of multiple, in-depth interviews, conducted with a separate sample of thirty households randomly selected from three disparate localities. Rory Truex, graduate student in Political Science, will serve as discussant. Tariq Thachil, Assistant Professor of Political Science, will chair the session. Lunch will be served.