Past Event

Outsourcing Repression: Everyday State Power in Contemporary China

January 25, 2024
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
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School of International and Public Affairs, 420 West 118th Street, Room 918, New York, NY 10027

Speaker: Lynette Ong, Professor of Political Science, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto; Visiting Scholar, Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University

Moderator: Junyan Jiang ,Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Columbia University

How do states coerce citizens into compliance while simultaneously minimizing backlash? In Outsourcing Repression, Lynette Ong examines how the Chinese state engages nonstate actors, from violent street gangsters to nonviolent grassroots brokers, to coerce and mobilize the masses to pursue its ambitious urbanization project. She draws on ethnographic research conducted annually from 2011 to 2019--the years from Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping, a unique and original event dataset, and a collection of government regulations in a study of everyday land grabs and housing demolition in China. Theorizing a counterintuitive form of repression that reduces resistance and backlash, Ong invites the reader to reimagine the new ground state power credibly occupies. Everyday state power is quotidian power acquired through society by penetrating nonstate territories and mobilizing the masses within.

After the book’s publication, Lynette has extended the arguments to explain the success, failure, and implications of China’s Zero-Covid Policy in the Journal of Democracy, Foreign Affairs and the Economist etc. Outsourcing Repression has won the American Sociology Association’s Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship in Political Sociology, and the Human Rights Best Book Awards from the American Political Science Association, the American Sociological Association, and the International Studies Association.

Speaker's Bio: Lynette H. Ong is Professor of Political Science at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto, and a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute. Her research lies at the intersection of authoritarian politics, contentious politics, and political economy of development. She is also the author of The Street and the Ballot Box: Interactions between Social Movements and Electoral Politics in Authoritarian Contexts (Cambridge University Press, Elements Series in Contentious Politics, 2022), and Prosper or Perish: Credit and Fiscal Systems in Rural China (Cornell University Press, 2012). Her peer-reviewed publications have also appeared in Perspectives on Politics, Comparative Politics, China Quarterly, China Journal, among other outlets.

This event is hosted by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute and co-sponsored by China and the World Program.


  • To attend this event in-person, please register HERE.
  • To attend this event online, please register HERE.

Contact Information

Julie Kwan