Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

2 - “Thugs-for-Hire” and Repression in State-led Urbanization in China

Saturday, July 7
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Kadamba, Lower Ground Floor

This paper examines “thugs-for-hire” as a form of state repression, particularly through the use of third-party violent agents. Local governments regularly deploy third-party violence to evict homeowners, expropriate land from farmers and deal with petitioners and protestors in China. This study contributes to the state repression literature by elaborating the role of thugs and gangsters as a repressive measure. Violence is effective and efficient in implementing unpopular and illegal policies of expropriating farmland and evicting residents. Third-party violence as a form of privatized repression also allows the state to evade responsibility for using violence and to maintain a veneer of legitimacy. Overall, we find “thugs-for-hire” playing an important role in the push for state-led urbanization in China. However, it may encounter agency problems, run the risk of backfiring from the society and impose cost on state legitimacy. 

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2 - “Thugs-for-Hire” and Repression in State-led Urbanization in China



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