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China's Governmentalities: Governing Change, Changing Government by Jeffreys Elaine

China's Governmentalities: Governing Change, Changing Government by Jeffreys Elaine

Author:Jeffreys Elaine [Elaine, Jeffreys]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Political Science, General
ISBN: 9780415547444
Google: h9EAiYLuTAUC
Goodreads: 7355166
Publisher: Routledge
Published: 2009-01-15T07:06:13+00:00


5 Building ‘community’

New strategies of governance in urban China

David Bray

China’s rapid transformation over the past decade has generated a great deal of commentary, yet little attention has been devoted to the growing prominence of the idea of ‘community’ within public discourse in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Chinese term for community, shequ, was used by China’s first generation of sociologists in the 1930s and 1940s, but it disappeared from public discourse when the Communist Party-led government banned sociology in the early 1950s.1 The rehabilitation of sociology as a discipline in the 1980s has seen the term return to general scholarly usage (Guo 1993: 3). More importantly, perhaps, the term has found its way into official governmental discourse: first, in the mid-1980s with the promotion of ‘community services’ (shequ fuwu); and second, since the mid-1990s, with the strategy for ‘community building’ (shequ jianshe). The growing concern with the concept of community in China reflects a recent trend, apparent in a number of other polities, to re-valorize the role of community within systems of governance (Rose 1999: 167). From New Labour’s ‘Third Way’ to the New Communitarians of the American right, the ‘community’ has been presented as a resource that can be mobilized to address a wide range of political, social, ethical and economic problems. While the discussion of ‘community’ in China is situated within domestic debates around local governance and social welfare that have emerged in response to the decline of the planned economy and associated institutions, it is also informed by international discourses on community. In China as elsewhere, ‘community’ has been posited in part as a counterweight to cultural, social and political fragmentation which is often seen as a negative consequence of globalization.

One of the more interesting aspects of the emergence of community policy in China is the speed with which the concept of ‘community’ has been transformed from a relatively abstract idea into a specific institutional model. According to central government policy documents circulated nationally at the end of 2000 (Minzhengbu 2000), the ‘community’ is now designated as the basic unit of urban social, political and administrative organization. The objective of this chapter is to chart the development of this policy and the discourse relating to its practical implementation. The chapter is divided into five sections. First, I discuss concepts of community in the broader global context, with a particular focus on how debates on ‘The Third Way’ and ‘New Communitarianism’ have influenced thinking on the role of ‘community’. Second, I explore how the recent emergence of a discourse on ‘community’ has been central to the formation of new ways for government to think about and address social problems in urban China. Third, I describe and analyse the ‘Shenyang Model’, one of the most influential regional models for the practical implementation of ‘community building’ in China today. Fourth, I examine how notions of ‘self-governance’ and ethical training inform the practical operation of ‘community building’. Finally, I conclude that ‘community building’ presents a new and hybrid strategy



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