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Published in: Journal of Chinese Political Science 3/2022

28-03-2022 | Book Review

Lily L. Tsai, When People Want Punishment: Retributive Justice and the Puzzle of Authoritarian Popularity

(New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021). 257 p. $84.99 hardback; $29.99 paperback, $23.95 e-book

Author: Bruce J. Dickson

Published in: Journal of Chinese Political Science | Issue 3/2022

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Excerpt

Why are some autocrats and the regimes they lead popular with their societies? Conventional explanations include economic growth, improved governance, and nationalism. To this debate, Lily Tsai brings a new factor: the people’s desire to punish officials who engage in corruption and other behaviors that violate the people’s shared values, what she calls retributive justice. She argues that in certain times and in certain places—specifically, when and where the political and economic environments are highly uncertain—some people prioritize order and security over individual rights and liberties. In those contexts, punishing wrongdoing “affirms the social order and society’s shared moral values” (39) and is essential for creating a sense of stability among the population. When the leaders violate the moral code of public service, the people want to see them punished to restore their faith in the political system. If the top leaders fail to enforce retributive justice, the people will doubt the moral values of their rulers, reducing both public support for the regime and their willingness to participate in a political system that does not reflect their values. …
Metadata
Title
Lily L. Tsai, When People Want Punishment: Retributive Justice and the Puzzle of Authoritarian Popularity
(New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021). 257 p. $84.99 hardback; $29.99 paperback, $23.95 e-book
Author
Bruce J. Dickson
Publication date
28-03-2022
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Published in
Journal of Chinese Political Science / Issue 3/2022
Print ISSN: 1080-6954
Electronic ISSN: 1874-6357
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11366-022-09789-0

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