Category Archives: Thesis defense

Utilities networks and urban fabric in China: the quest for an environmentalization in the framework of an accelerated development

Thesis defense of Rémi Curien1: Services essentiels en réseaux et fabrique urbaine en Chine : la   quête d’une environnementalisation dans le cadre d’un développement accéléré – Enquêtes à Shanghai, Suzhou et Tianjin (Utilities networks and urban fabric in China: the quest for an environmentalization in the framework of an accelerated development – Field surveys in Shanghai, Suzhou and Tianjin)

Members of the Jury

  • Sabine Barles, Professor of urban planning, Université Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne, president of the thesis committee.
  • Catherine Chevauché, Deputy Director of Research, Innovation and Sustainable Development at Safege, Suez Environnement, examiner.
  • Olivier Coutard, CNRS Research Director, LATTS, supervisor.
  • François Gipouloux, CNRS Research Director, UMR 8173 Chine, Corée, Japon (EHESS), referee.
  • Dominique Lorrain, CNRS Research Director, LATTS, examiner.
  • Franck Scherrer, Professor of geography and urban planning, Université de Montréal, referee.
  • Zou Huan, Professor of architecture and urban planning, Tsinghua University, examiner.


Environmentalising the country’s development without significantly changing the pace of economic and urban growth: such is the difficult challenge set since 2006 by the Chinese authorities to deal with the increasing pressure bearing on natural environment and major environmental damage caused by accelerated development. China is probably the only country in the world where a goal of energy and environmental sobriety in the provision of urban utilities (water, waste-water, electricity, gas, heating, waste management) is so vigorously sought in circular economy policies, more specifically in eco-industrial parks and eco-cities projects, in the context of a strong and extended economic and urban development. Based on an investigation conducted in Shanghai, Suzhou and Tianjin, three cities at the forefront of transformations in China, and combined with a study of the national framework and the overall situation in the country, the thesis aims to analyze the substance and the forms of the urban utilities’ environmentlisation implemented in China. Our research shows that the ambitious Chinese policies of urban utilities’ environmentalisation leads in the cities to a partial improvement in the environmental quality of their provision, while the horizon of sobriety and circular economy remains distant. The prevalence of the developmentalist urban fabric stands structurally in the way of the emergence of resources reuse-oriented alternative technical systems to conventional networks. The urban utilities’ environmentalisation path taken in the Chinese cities is too technocentric and too exogenous to urban planning for the environmentalisation and especially the quest for sobriety to be more substantial. Operationally, these findings encourage a greater integration of utilities’ provision issues in the planning and development of cities, both in China and beyond the Chinese context.


November, 21, 2014, at 2:30 pm


Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (Cité Descartes, 6-8 Avenue Blaise Pascal, 77455 Champs-sur-Marne, France) – Amphithéâtre Navier

If you wish to attend  this event, please contact Rémi Curien (


Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

More Posts

Miguel Elosua’s thesis defense at ECUPL

Miguel Elosua thesis defense

Miguel Elosua, PhD student at the EHESS,  defended his PhD thesis in law at East China University of Political Science and Law (ECUPL) on 14 June 2014.

Jury membres

  • 段匡 (Duan Kuang) Fudan Daxue Jiaoshou
  • 彭诚信(Peng Chengxin) Jiaotong Daxue Jiaoshou
  • 傅鼎生 (Fu Dingsheng) Huadong Zhengfa Daxue Jiaoshou
  • 张驰 (Zhang Chi) Huadong Zhengfa Daxue Jiaoshou
  • 金可可 (Jin Keke) Huadong Zhengfa Daxue Jiaoshou

Thesis supervisor

  • 高富平 (Gao Fuping) Huadong Zhengfa Daxue Jiaoshou

Thesis title

Nongcun jiti tudi chengshihua de zhidu yanjiu – yi chengxiang tudi liyong yitihua wei shejiao) 农村集体土地城市化的制度研究——以城乡土地利用体制一体化为视角/Study on a system of urbanisation of the rural collective land – Rural and urban integration of the land use system in perspective.

Abstract in Chinese and English

在中国,自从共产党执政以来,土地权利一直就是一个核心问题。在1978年改革进程开始前,土地集体所有制下的土地分配利用一直是农村的主要经济基础,城市和农村之间的土地利用模式之间并不存在任何区别。然而,自1980年代以来,特别是20世纪90年 代,农村土地与城市土地制度开始出现分化,城乡差距也渐渐开始拉大。随着城市土地使用权的商业化流转,城市形成了一个蓬勃发展的房地产市场,极大地为经济 的稳健发展和城市居民的福利作出了贡献。然而,城市所形成的具有社会主义特色和准自由的土地市场,使得城乡土地二元利用体制不断得到深化:城市的土地转 让、出租和抵押,可以充分实现土地的内在价值,然而农村土地却被牢牢禁锢。中国共产党农村土地政策的背后,是共同富裕的理想。然而,中国经过三十多年的快 速经济发展,农村地区却是一直处于一种共同贫穷的境况。农村和城市之间的贫富差距随着经济的发展变得越来越明显。笔者认为这种城乡差距的主要根源之一在于 土地的产权制度即城乡土地二元利用体制。城乡土地二元利用体制已经到了不得不改革的时刻。实现农村的自主城市化发展的路径只能是完全彻底地突破城乡土地利 用二元体制,摒弃现有的以征收为主要方式的土地城市化,归还农村本应当享有的土地发展权,保障在土地城市化进程中农村土地不改变权属地实现商业化和市场 化,实现中国统筹城乡的快速城市化进程。最后,笔者采用比较的角度分析了西班牙产权制度,并且将西班牙土地制度中的有益部分引入中国农村土地自由流转的设 计方案之中。

In China, land rights have always been a central concern for the Chinese Communist Party since it came to power. Before the start of the reform process in 1978, the system of property for collective land was the foundation of the collective economy in rural areas. However, since the 1980s, and especially since the 1990s it has coexisted with an urban system where land has been progressively liberalised. In urban land there is a thriving market in real estate that has contributed greatly to the robustness of the economy and the welfare of urban residents. However, this also led to the increasingly less peaceful coexistence of two diametrically opposed systems of property: a system of collective ownership with socialist characteristics and a quasi free-market system where land can be transferred, leased, or used as collateral, exploiting its inherent value.

Behind the rural land policy of the CCP is the ideal of common prosperity. However, after more than thirty years of rapid economic development, a salient feature of China’s rural areas has been the common poverty of the farmer class as a whole. The economic gap between the rural and the urban has not ceased to increase. The author argues that one of the main causes of this urban-rural gap lies in the dual system of land property rights, which has proved to be flawed, as farmers have been deprived from exploiting the value of their most precious asset: land. Therefore, the author advocates reforming the dual property system, and more specifically, the land-use rights system concerning rural construction land. In order to carry out such a reform the author argues that allowing collectives to fully exercise their property rights, particularly land development rights, is the optimal solution. The author proposes that, during the process of land urbanisation, ownership of land does not change, allowing collectives to develop and market construction land, fostering the countryside’s self-urbanization as the best way to finance their development and to achieve urban-rural integration. Finally, the author uses a comparative perspective analysing the Spanish property rights system as a reference, eventually devising a plan for the liberalisation of the rural land market.

Aurélia Martin

Chargée de communications et des médias pour l'UMR Chine Corée Japon (CNRS)

More Posts

Chi-Han Ai’s thesis defense

Chi-Han Ai defended her thesis on 20 May 2014, which was entitled “The development of late arrival clusters in the integrated circuits industry: a study based on knowledge interactions – the cases of Hsinchu Scientific Park, Taïwan, and Zhangjiang High-Tech Park, Shanghai” (« Le développement de clusters arrivés tardivement dans l’industrie des circuits intégrés : une approche fondée sur les interactions des connaissances. Les cas du parc scientifique de Hsinchu, situé à Taïwan, et du parc de haute technologie de Zhangjiang, localisé à Shanghai»), and obtained the mention très honorable avec félicitations du jury. Read the summary of her thesis here (in French).1

Thesis supervisor

  •  François Gipouloux

Jury members


Guilhem Fabre, Xavier Richet, Ai Chi-han, François Gipouloux, Sébastien Lechevalier


  1. This article was translated by Aurélia Martin. []

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

More Posts - Website

Sociology of a committee of residents in Beijing

Wang Di will defend a thesis entitled :

Standards and practices of local bodies in urban China: sociology of a committee of residents in Beijing.

Co-supervision thesis (Peking University-EHESS)


  • Wang Hansheng, Thesis supervisor, professor at Peking University
  • Isabelle Thireau, Thesis supervisor, drector of studies at the EHESS, head of research at the CNRS
  • Tang Jun, professor at the Beijing University of Technology
  • Xiaohong Xiao-Planes, professor at INALCO


The object of this thesis is to describe and analyze the effective operation of a committee of residents in Beijing, a committee in which an ethnographic study was conducted for two years. The dissertation traces the genesis of residents committees in Chinese urban society and the successive changes in their status, their responsibilities, their internal structure, their relationship with the state and Party apparatus since the mid-twentieth century. The author evokes the formal regulations and guidelines which constrain him, at present, but strives mainly to capture the way the members of the local authority interpret, internally and in contradictory ways, the demands and instructions they receive from higher authorities, the obstacles and difficulties that arise in their production, the assessments of which they are the subject from the various stakeholders (neighborhood offices and residents) in order to select tasks to perform effectively and relevant means to achieve them. Far from describing the official functioning of residents’ committees, so this dissertation explores labor practices in everyday life and the principles and standards that guide them. It attempts to reconstruct “what matters” to the members of the residents’ commitee, depending on their assessment of the circumstances, of how plural requests from very different social actors meet or otherwise oppose, initiatives that are available to them to be judged positively by higher levels of government without arousing openly negative reactions from residents.


Friday 3 May 2013 at 2 p.m.


Peking University
Department of sociology and anthropology

Aurélia Martin

Chargée de communications et des médias pour l'UMR Chine Corée Japon (CNRS)

More Posts

Thesis defense by Yang Chen 楊辰

« Mutations sociales et transformations spatiales des quartiers ouvriers de Shanghai (1949-2010). Le cas de la cité ouvrière de Caoyang »

Inside estate N.1, Caoyang, June 2009. Photo credit: Yang Chen. All rights reserved.

Yang Chen will defend his thesis on “Social changes and spatial transformations of working-class neighborhoods of Shanghai (1949-2010): the case of Caoyang city”, at  the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS)  –  190-198 avenue de France, salle 1  –  75013 Paris, on October 16th 2012 at 2.30 p.m.

  • Thesis advisor: François Gipouloux (CNRS)
  • Thesis committee: Françoise Ged (Observatoire de l’architecture de Chine contemporaine), Roland Lin Chih-Hung (CREOPS-Unesco), Isabelle Thireau (CNRS-EHESS), Alain Viaro (Université de Genève)

After establishing political power in 1949, the Government of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), inspired by the Soviet model, established a system involving a centrally planned economy and a policy of industrialization. The working class was therefore considered to be a new privileged class in Chinese society. To better serve industry and the working class, in 1951 the government of Shanghai launched a project for the construction of workers’ housing called “workers’ new estates” (Gongren Xincun, GRXC). Our study focuses on three aspects of GRXC (based on the example of Caoyang city):

  1. the economic, social and political contexts surrounding the birth of these workers’ new estates during the early years of the new regime;
  2.  the spatial and social construction of Caoyang city from the 1950s to the 1990s;
  3. the changes that have taken place in Caoyang city since the late 1990s.

Throughout these three chronological sections, we will stress that the birth and evolution of GRXC was not merely a matter of constructing workers’ housing; instead it was an integral part of this historical period of sixty years of social transformation in Shanghai. Through investment, construction, distribution and management of the workers’ new estates, the CCP strived not only to establish a system of public housing and to redesign urban space but also to develop two social administrative systems (work units and resident committees) and to create a social identity for the new socialist workers. Above all, it also defined the relationship between the state, the work unit and the workers in the era of socialism. Despite the current social context (degradation of the work unit system, privatization of public housing and urban renewal) since the1990s, the residents of the workers’ new estates who have in unstable work situations and suffer from poverty still maintain, as they always did, a close relationship with their community, the resident committee and the local government.

More information


Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

More Posts - Website