The Politics of Community Building in Urban China

By Thomas Heberer, Christian Göbel

© 2011 – Routledge

194 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415855549
pub: 2013-04-12
US Dollars$48.95
Hardback: 9780415597029
pub: 2011-03-29
US Dollars$140.00

About the Book

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.


"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)

"Heberer and Göbel’s book makes an extremely valuable contribution to current research by examining the recent reform of neighborhood institutions in urban China."

W. Ma, Shenzhen University, China, 2014

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

About the Series

Chinese Worlds

Chinese Worlds publishes high-quality scholarship, research monographs, and source collections on Chinese history and society. 'Worlds' signals the diversity of China, the cycles of unity and division through which China's modern history has passed, and recent research trends toward regional studies and local issues. It also signals that Chineseness is not contained within borders - ethnic migrant communities overseas are also 'Chinese worlds.'

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / City Planning & Urban Development
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General