The book examines the politics of regulatory policymaking, supply chain management, and standards setting in the world's largest food production system. By understanding China's scale problem in governance, scholars, policymakers, and business leaders will be able to identify the root causes of and potential solutions to China's food safety crisis.
China's food safety system is in crisis. Egregious scandals, as varied as the sale of liquor laced with Viagra and the distribution of fake eggs, reveal how regulatory practices have been stretched to their limit in the world's largest food production system. On Feeding the Masses focuses on the oft-cited but ultimately overlooked concept of scale to identify the root causes of China's regulatory failures in food safety. The 'politics of scale' framework highlights how regulators disagree on which level of government is best suited to regulate ('the scale of governance'), struggle to address multilevel tensions ('multidimensional scale integration'), and fail to understand how policies at one level of government can affect other levels of government in unexpected and costly ways ('scale externalities'). Drawing from over 200 interviews with food safety regulators and producers, the study provides one of the most comprehensive accounts of China's food safety crisis to date.
'Food safety has become one of the most salient quality-of-life issues. Using a 'politics of scale' framework, John K. Yasuda sheds important light on the politics of food safety in China. He also helps us appreciate the challenges of governance in large-scale polities.' Dali L. Yang, University of Chicago
'Why do government regulations designed to safeguard the public so often fail to achieve this goal in practice? John K. Yasuda's On Feeding the Masses provides a fresh answer to this important question by going deep inside the Chinese state. Yasuda finds that the lackluster performance of China's national food safety system stems not from corruption, lack of state capacity, or recalcitrant bureaucrats, but from 'scale politics,' that is, the difficulties of coordinating knowledge, procedures, and rules across different levels of government. Yasuda's 'politics of scale' theoretical framework, which he elucidates and tests with impressive subnational and cross-national evidence, offers an exciting new way for scholars and practitioners to understand and manage the challenges of multilevel governance.' Richard Snyder, Brown University, Rhode Island