Manipulating Authoritarian Citizenship

Security, Development, and Local Membership in China

Presentation by Samantha Vortherm on her latest book

Friday, November 4, 2022
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
In person: Bunche Hall 10383
Zoom Webinar

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Samantha Vortherms (Political Science, UCI), presenting “Manipulating Authoritarian Citizenship: Security, Development, and Local Membership in China,” (Bunche 10383)


Autocrats must redistribute to survive, but redistribution is limited, selective, and unequal. Who is entitled to the redistribution that underlies the authoritarian bargain? The author argues the question of authoritarian redistribution is one of citizenship. Authoritarian citizenship is characterized by particularistic membership and group-based rights rather than inclusive membership and individual rights. Autocrats use domestic citizenship regimes—institutions defining sub-national membership that predicate rights entitlements—to both strategically limit and extend socio- economic rights to ensure the authoritarian bargain. They apply this framework to the highly institutionalized case of China, where domestic citizenship regimes are modeled explicitly after international immigration regimes to manipulate access to citizenship within the country. Drawing on semi-structured interviews, government policies, and a nation-wide database of local citizenship membership policies in China, the author traces how local citizenship creates closure while development incentivizes strategic inclusion. By evaluating how authoritarian citizenship functions, this framework increases our understanding of individual-state relations in autocratic contexts and allows for gradients of citizenship across a variety of regime types.


Attend in person in Bunche Hall 10383 or register above for Zoom

Sponsor(s): Center for Study of International Migration, Center for Chinese Studies