Tag Archives: urban residential communities

Neighborhood politics in urban China

Tomba, Luigi (2014). The government next door : neighborhood politics in urban China. Ithaca : Cornell university press. 240 p. ISBN : 978-0-8014-5282-6.

80140100835180MChinese residential communities are places of intense governing and an arena of active political engagement between state and society. In The Government Next Door, Luigi Tomba investigates how the goals of a government consolidated in a distant authority materialize in citizens’ everyday lives. Chinese neighborhoods reveal much about the changing nature of governing practices in the country. Government action is driven by the need to preserve social and political stability, but such priorities must adapt to the progressive privatization of urban residential space and an increasingly complex set of societal forces. Tomba’s vivid ethnographic accounts of neighborhood life and politics in Beijing, Shenyang, and Chengdu depict how such local “translation” of government priorities takes place.

Tomba reveals how different clusters of residential space are governed more or less intensely depending on the residents’ social status; how disgruntled communities with high unemployment are still managed with the pastoral strategies typical of the socialist tradition, while high-income neighbors are allowed greater autonomy in exchange for a greater concern for social order. Conflicts are contained by the gated structures of the neighborhoods to prevent systemic challenges to the government, and middle-class lifestyles have become exemplars of a new, responsible form of citizenship. At times of conflict and in daily interactions, the penetration of the state discourse about social stability becomes clear.

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Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Deliberating governance in Chinese urban communities

Tang, Beibei. (2015) Deliberating governance in Chinese urban communities. The China Journal, 73 (January 2015), pp. 84-107. URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/679270

This article examines the mechanisms of conflict resolution by public deliberation in Chinese urban residential communities. The analysis focuses on the interactions between three key actors of community life: Residents’ Committees (as the agent of the state), residents, and their representative organizations. Based on empirical data from three types of urban communities, the article finds that deliberation is more effective in communities where the power of Residents’ Committees over residents is weak, and deliberation also works better in communities with strong resident representatives who are able to mobilize information flows and to shape public reasoning. The findings suggest that, on the one hand, the governance structure of Chinese urban residential communities provides space for informal, unstructured public deliberation; on the other hand, deliberation also meets obstacles and dilemmas associated with representation, coordination and fostering understanding across social and economic divisions.

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Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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