Strategic recognition: Watching the state in Shenzhen
O'Donnell, Mary Ann
Marcus, George E.
Doctor of Philosophy thesis
Based on three years of ethnographic fieldwork in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, People's Republic of China, I offer a reading of Reform and Opening (Gaige Kaifang) in terms of how individuals recognized, manipulated, avoided, and responded to the Chinese state apparatus during the Deng years (1978--1997). I suggest that strategic recognition---a concept I develop through an analysis of the performance and interpretation of mianzi---provides useful insight into the political, economic, and cultural infrastructure of contemporary China. My analysis of strategic recognition in Shenzhen has a double focus: the changing structure of the Chinese state within a world system and the concomitant production of legal residents. This double focus allows me to track how interlocutors strategically read each other's mianzi and provides the empirical basis for a working definition of strategic recognition: the ability to judge relative degrees of freedom within relationships that were variously mediated by the state apparatus.
Cultural anthropology; Economics; Political science; Sociology; Social structure