ABSTRACT

Integral to authoritarian regimes is the multifaceted employments of various measures to manage, control and reshape the public sphere, as spaces of association identified with contentious activities. Inclusive of these measures are the regulative mode of performances to limit contention, including expressions and interactions of civic associations in the public deemed subversive by the state, and also proactive modes of performance that set frames of action for limited dissent to be freely expressed only within the defined frames parameters of discourse or practices sanctioned by the state. The second type of measures characterize deliberative practices that direct discussions or debates and construct new public forums that set defined frames for public discourse that ultimately stabilize authoritarian rule. Known as “authoritarian deliberation,” such measures, at times subtle and indirect, are popular among states such as China where there is a strong claim for populism of revolutionary brand as a way to legitimize state power (He 2006; Perry 2007). Yet behind the façade of popular sovereignty associated with democracy is an authoritarian structure that governs through a complex regulative and surveillance regime.