Working Papers

  • Yan WANG. Who is entitled and who deserves: Governmentality in welfare policies. Under review.

Abstract: How does policy design serve an authority that is experiencing tremendous social and economic change, and contribute to the legitimacy maintenance of a transitional state? I take the pension reform in China as an example, collect statistical data of benefit distribution from1950s to the 2010s, and text data of corresponding policy and official propaganda from 1978-2008 to answer these questions. My study argues that, the segmented resource allocation in China’s social welfare reform has favoured the core elites, while it distributed limited fiscal capacity to the social groups which cost least per person. The persuasion that attempted to shape public opinion and expectation produces intentional truth and knowledge about pension benefits, responsibility and accountability allocation, and constructed the image of deserving ones and undeserving ones.

  • Xufeng ZHU, Yan WANG. Policy experimentation as dialogue: Social policy, shared responsibility, and regime support in China. Under review.

Abstract: Traditional wisdom on policy experimentation has mainly focused on the relations between the central and local levels. However, scholars have paid little attention to the interaction between policy experimentation and the public. We argue that policy experimentation can be adopted by decision-makers as a dialogue instrument with the public, facilitating the building of a social consensus regarding controversial policies. We evaluate the effects of the Chinese government’s efforts in promoting shared responsibility between the state and the individuals for the urban pension system with policy experimentation on public’s regime support. Evidence from two rounds of a nationwide survey conducted before and after the policy experiment indicates that the implementation of policy experiment has significantly contributed to citizens’ acceptance of individual welfare responsibility. Moreover, the image building of governmental responsibility via local official news coverage immediately consolidates political trust of residents while posing threats to government credibility in the long term.

  • Yan WANG. Truth or dare: Falsification in manufactured consent. Under review.

Abstract: Despite state’s well-designed statecraft in shaping public opinions, the risks for the authorities of falsified compliance from the people are present in many post-communist countries. In this paper I ask: is the reported high compliance of the public from all kinds of survey results regarding state representations in China sincere or just falsification? If falsified, how do citizens disentangle the reported consent from their private attitudes? I combine observation and in-depth interviews to unlock the black box and explore the power relationship between state and individual by highlighting ordinary people’s subjectivity and its involution affected by the governmentality of the current authority. The data shows that, falsified compliance does exist among the Chinese regarding the current political system and the authorities, but it is a mixture of intentional falsification and cognitive dissonance. Moreover, individual’s political opinion presents a smooth transformation between the public face and the private face. The interaction between people’s personal experience and the existing cultural, historical and educational factors that have socialised their ideas deeply shapes the presentation of manufactured compliance in authoritarian regimes.

  • Xiaonan WANG, Yan WANG. Too Cynical! How Stock Market in China Dismissed Anticorruption Signals. Under review.

Abstract: Anticorruption campaigns are dramatic events with unusually harsh rhetoric and high- profile crackdowns. However, using event study and synthetic control, we found that Xi Jinping’s anticorruption campaign — a sensational and largely genuine anticorruption effort — was not ini- tially taken seriously by the stock market. Early anticorruption speeches and crackdowns did not decrease the stock prices of the firms whose connected officials were later investigated. To explain the puzzling results, we argue that the high costs of following through and repeated campaigns in the past paradoxically nurtured cynicism. By exploring the variations of factions, we provide evidence that the stock market initially perceived the campaign only as a power struggle and mis- interpreted the crackdowns on senior officials as signs of the campaign starting to slow down. Our findings cast doubt on the effectiveness of campaign-style enforcement, even in the short term.


  • Yan WANG (2020) Social policy, state legitimacy and strategic actors: governmentality and counter-conduct in authoritarian regime. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).Abstract