My Books

Micropolitics in Contemporary China: A Technical Unit During and After the Cultural Revolution (White Plains, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1979; with Gordon White)

This book is one of the only systematic, quantitative analyses of political behavior during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Based on data on all the members of a technical work group, it examines the social determinants – including education, age, gender, occupation, and class – that shaped people's decisions about whether to join radical, conservative or "middling" factions. The key finding is the class was the most important factor. The book also provides a fine-grained narrative of the key events in this work unit from 1966 to 1974, and of the role of ideology as a lens and language through which participants played out interest-group and highly particularistic politics.

China: Politics, Economics, and Society: Iconoclasm And Innovation In A Revolutionary Socialist Country (London: Pinter, 1986)

China's refusal to conform to the Soviet-style orthodoxy provides an motif for this survey, which locates Chinese state socialism comparatively, both with other socialist and with late industrializing "third world" countries. This book shows how since the 1950s China has rejected significant elements of the Soviet model of socialist organization and development, and explored a number of different and even opposing alternatives that provide instructive lessons for the theory of socialism as well as the practice of other socialist countries. Major themes include the trajectory of the revolution and the Maoist period, the state and politics, rural and urban political economy, social issues (gender, class, and nationality), key domestic policies (education, culture, religion, and military affairs), and foreign policy.

Tethered Deer - Government & Economy in a Chinese County (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996; with Vivienne Shue)

This is the first longitudinal study of the Chinese government at the county level. Highlighting the contention-prone yet often collaborative relationships between county officials and the administrative and production units above and below them, it opens a window on the Chinese state and statecraft in the vast bureaucratic middle ground between Beijing policymaking and community-level politics.

Using data drawn from Shulu county, Hebei, over the last decade of the Mao era and the first decade of the Deng period, supplemented by fieldwork carried out between 1979 and 1990, Tethered Deer covers: county history and economic and political geography, the changing shape of county government organizations, the evolution of county finance, and, most notably, the activities of county administrators in promoting rural development, local industrialization, urbanization, and commercial expansion. The analysis emphasizes both the structures and attitudes of the county government, noting changes and continuities in its nature and activities over the two dissimilar decades.


China Against the Tides: Restructuring Through Revolution, Radicalism and Reform (London: Pinter/Cassell, 1997; second edition: London: Continuum, 2003; third edition: New York: Continuum, 2009)

This book offers an interpretive survey of China's revolution, its sustained experiment with radical state socialism, and its efforts at equally radical structural reform. The approach remains interdisciplinary, weaving together history, politics, society, economics and culture. Though written for readers with no particular background in Chinese affairs, it goes beyond being just an introduction, offering arguments and analyses informed by social science theory and by a comparative perspective.

Banjoryu-ei chungkuk (Seoul: Dolbegae Press, 2000).

Korean translation of China Against the Tides.

Fanchaoliu de zhongguo (China Against the Tides) (Beijing: Central Communist Party School Press, 1999).

Chinese translation of China Against the Tides. One of the only books published in China to present a foreign specialist's analysis of the very controversial events of the Cultural Revolution and the 1989 protests.

Asian Politics in Development: Essays in Honour of Gordon White (London: Frank Cass, 2003).

This volume adopts a multidisciplinary and comparative approach to development that brings together issues that are characteristic of the lifelong scholarship of Professor Gordon White. These include a focus on the state, civil society, welfare and globalization. The range of disciplines represented including political science, economics, sociology and social and economic anthropology and a regional focus on China, India and East Asia gives rise to an unusually creative and synergistic set of ideas for thinking about the various meanings of politics in development.

What the English Know as Class (CreateSpace, 2013).

As the curtain falls on Blood Brothers, the classic Willy Russell musical in which twin brothers reared apart in poor and wealthy homes are both killed in a struggle over power, money and love, the narrator asks: “Could it be what we, the English, have come to know as class?” The play’s thirty year run makes it plain that questions of class have continued to resonate in Britain. Just as it opened in 1983, a new generation of intellectuals and politicians associated with rising neoliberalism began to develop a contrarian discourse that class is dying out. Yet economic inequality has grown exponentially, and the 2008 crash helped bring class back into political focus. In 2012, Oberlin College students interested in exploring these questions came to Britain, where class remains closer to the surface of people’s lives and thinking than in the US. They delved into a wide range of arenas, yet their findings evince one common theme: wherever one looks, class-based inequality and politics are alive and well, and they hurt.

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