The Politics of Community Building in Urban China  book cover
1st Edition

The Politics of Community Building in Urban China

ISBN 9780415855549
Published April 11, 2013 by Routledge
208 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book aims to make sense of the recent reform of neighbourhood institutions in urban China. It builds on the observation that the late 1990s saw a comeback of the state in urban China after the increased economization of life in the 1980s had initially forced it to withdraw. Based on several months of fieldwork in locations ranging from poor and dilapidated neighbourhoods in Shenyang City to middle class gated communities in Shenzhen, the authors analyze recent attempts by the central government to enhance stability in China’s increasingly volatile cities.

In particular, they argue that the central government has begun to restructure urban neighbourhoods, and has encouraged residents to govern themselves by means of democratic procedures. Heberer and Göbel also contend that whilst on the one hand, the central government has managed to bring the Party-state back into urban society, especially by tapping into a range of social groups that depend on it, it has not, however, managed to establish a broad base for participation. In testing this hypothesis, the book examines the rationales, strategies and impacts of this comeback by systematically analyzing how the reorganization of neighbourhood committees was actually conducted and find that opportunities for participation were far more limited than initially promised.

The book will be of interest to students and scholars of Chinese Studies, Development Studies, Urban Studies and Asian Studies in general.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Political Innovation without Democratization   2 Social Control, Social Fragmentation, and the Reimposition of State Power   3 Enhancing Infrastructural Power: Shequ Organization   4 Legitimating Narratives   5 Shequ Governance   6 New Schemes of Social Security: Urban Neighbourhood Communities as Institutions of Output Legitimacy   7 Attitudes   8 Conclusion

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Thomas Heberer is Professor of the Politics of East Asia in the Institute of Political Science/East Asian Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.

Christian Göbel is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for East and Southeast Asian Studies at Lund University, Sweden.


"The authors conduct a truly meaningful project as it contains many firsthand interviews based on several months of fieldwork in diverse regions of China. Despite this diversity, a coherent central theme is formed. The book is of interest to students and scholars of Chinese studies, development studies, urban studies, and Asian studies in general.  Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, and research collections." - CHOICE (April 2012)

'The Politics of Community Building provides a perceptive and intellectually lively guide to this evolving locus of urban governance.' - Benjamin L. Read, University of California, Santa Cruz; The China Journal (July 2013).

"Heberer and Göbel’s book is recommended for scholars interested in fields ranging from Asian or Chinese Studies to Urban or Development Studies. Practitioners in these fields will also find this book to be an essential resource." - W. Ma , Department of Public Administration, College of Management, Shenzhen University