The Politics of Community Building in Urban China

Routledge
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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.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
Mar 29, 2011
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Pages
194
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ISBN
9781136808432
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / General
Political Science / Public Policy / City Planning & Urban Development
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Longlisted for the 2009 ICAS Book Award

Mountainous Liangshan Prefecture, on the southern border of Sichuan Province, is one of China's most remote regions. Although Liangshan's majority ethnic group, the Nuosu (now classified by the Chinese government as part of the Yi ethnic group), practiced a subsistence economy and were, by Chinese standards, extremely poor, their traditional society was stratified into endogamous castes, the most powerful of which owned slaves. With the incorporation of Liangshan into China's new socialist society in the mid-twentieth century, the Nuosu were required to abolish slavery and what the Chinese government considered to be superstitious religious practices. When Han Chinese moved into the area, competing with Nuosu for limited resources and introducing new cultural and economic challenges, some Nuosu took advantage of China's new economic policies in the 1980s to begin private businesses.

In Doing Business in Rural China, Thomas Heberer tells the stories of individual entrepreneurs and presents a wealth of economic data gleaned from extensive fieldwork in Liangshan. He documents and analyzes the phenomenal growth during the last two decades of Nuosu-run businesses, comparing these with Han-run businesses and asking how ethnicity affects the new market-oriented economic structure and how economics in turn affects Nuosu culture and society. He finds that Nuosu entrepreneurs have effected significant change in local economic structures and social institutions and have financed major social and economic development projects. This economic development has prompted Nuosu entrepreneurs to establish business, political, and social relationships beyond the traditional social confines of the clan, while also fostering awareness and celebration of ethnicity.

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