Party Spirit Made Flesh: the Production of Legitimacy in the Aftermath of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake

Christian Sorace

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    This article argues that the Party retains a tradition of seeking to revitalize its legitimacy through demonstrations of benevolence and glory. The post-2008 Sichuan earthquake provided just such an opportunity to mobilize the discourse of "Party spirit" and display the willingness of cadres to suffer and sacrifice themselves on behalf of the people. In addition to being grist for the propaganda mill, these norms and expectations were implemented in concrete policy directives and work pressures. Local cadres, who were also earthquake survivors, started to suffer from exhaustion, insomnia, and depression. After high-profile suicides by several local cadres, the Party adopted a therapeutic discourse in order to address the psychological needs of individual cadres, though these gentler policies seem doomed to be short-lived.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)41-62
    JournalThe China Journal
    Volume76
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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