This study looks at Chinese homeowners’ participation in policymaking. Drawing on evidence from Guangzhou and Beijing, it shows that various organised homeowner activists have moved upstream in the policy process and have begun to push beyond policy implementation into the domain of agenda setting and “rule-making”. These advocates display rights-conscious patterns of behaviour that are closer to that of interest or lobby groups than to the typical repertoire of Chinese contentious citizens. The study suggests that this kind of political participation is on the rise amongst Chinese homeowner activists. This result complements and extends other recent findings that suggest the Chinese policy process is gradually opening up. Such a trend could have significant implications and calls for more research in different domains of state-society relations.
Fu, Qiang and Lin, Nan (2013) The weaknesses of civic territorial organizations : civic engagement and homeowners associations in urban China. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. Prepublished September, 3, 2013. DOI: 10.1111/1468-2427.12080
China’s massive transformation in urban governance, which is characterized by breaking the link between workplace and residence and consolidating state territorial agencies at the grassroots level, has profound implications for urban residents. While community building is employed as a deliberate (top-down) approach to restore a governable urban society, the establishment, development and problems of bottom-up civic territorial organizations — homeowners associations — are garnering increased attention from academia. Based on field research conducted in Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Meizhou in Guangdong Province from 2009 to 2011, we show that civic engagement, a necessary condition for the development of homeowners associations, is inadequate across urban communities. To understand why, we identified and analyzed three elements — lack of awareness of partitioned property ownership, the hidden costs of civic engagement and deficiency in social capital — as factors that impede civic engagement across urban communities. These elements also provide yardsticks for scholars to evaluate why, whether and how homeowners (dis-)engage from neighborhood affairs.