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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)

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