Search
Search
Profile picture for user Kevin J. O'Brien

Kevin O'Brien

Walter and Elise Haas Professor of Asian Studies; Alann P. Bedford Professor of Asian Studies; Professor of Political Science; & Director of the Institute of East Asian Studies
Email
CV
Current Status
On leave, July 2021-June 2022
Phone
510 704 3740
Office
712 Social Sciences Building
Personal Statement

Kevin O’Brien is the Alann P. Bedford Professor of Asian Studies and Professor of Political Science at UC-Berkeley. He is also the Director of Berkeley's Institute of East Asian Studies and the Walter and Elise Haas Professor of Asian Studies. He received a B.A. from Grinnell College and a Ph.D. from Yale University, and taught at Ohio State before moving to Berkeley in 2000. His research focuses on contemporary Chinese politics, especially at the grassroots. Among his publications are Reform Without Liberalization: China's National People's Congress and the Politics of Institutional ChangeRightful Resistance in Rural China (with Lianjiang Li), Engaging the Law in China: State, Society and Possibilities for Justice (co-edited with Neil Diamant and Stanley Lubman), Grassroots Elections in China (co-edited with Suisheng Zhao), Rural Politics in China (co-edited with Emily Yeh and Ye Jingzhong) and Popular Protest in China, as well as articles on legislative politics, local elections, fieldwork strategies, implementation, policing, rural protest and village-level political reform. Over the last decade, as his attention shifted from protest to "stability maintenance," his work has centered on theories of popular contention, particularly as concerns the policing of protest and types of repression that are neither "soft" nor "hard." In the last few years, he has written articles with his students (and students of his students) on street-level cops; bureaucrats who take part in protests; local officials who deflect migrant workers and prevent them from receiving promised services; grassroots cadres who broker land taking in urbanizing Chengdu; Protestant pastors who cope with increased repression and find ways to adapt in difficult circumstances; the implementation of government transparency, and an NGO whose earthquake reconstruction program failed after it lost the community's trust. His main interest for many years has been the disaffected and trod-upon in society, and the strategies they use to improve their situation, as well as the front-line cadres and others who make political control real.

Academic Subfields
Research Interests
China
Contentious Politics
Protest Policing
Local Elections
Comparative Legislatures
Policy Implementation
State-Society Relations
Degrees
B.A., Grinnell College, 1979
Ph.D., Yale University, 1987
Books

 

 

(New York: Cambridge University Press,  2006)
 

Rural Politics in Contemporary China (ed. with Emily T. Yeh and Ye Jingzhong) (London: Routledge, 2014) Reviews

 

(Cambridge: Harvard University Press,  2008) Reviews

 

 

Engaging the Law in China: State, Society and Possibilities for Justice (ed. with Neil J. Diamant and Stanley B. Lubman) (Stanford: Stanford University Press,  2005) Reviews

Reform Without Liberalization: China’s National People’s Congress and the Politics of Institutional Change (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990) Reviews

 

Grassroots Elections in China (ed. with Zhao Suisheng) (London: Routledge, 2011) Reviews

 

Articles
 
Protest Control and Policing
 
Protest
Village Elections
Legislatures
The China Field
Policy Implementation
Agrarian Studies
Miscellaneous