UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Shequ construction : policy implementation, community building, and urban governance in China Shieh, Leslie L.


China’s nationwide Shequ (Community) Construction project aims to strengthen neighbourhood-based governance, particularly as cities wrestle with pressing social issues accompanying the country’s economic reforms. This policy has produced astounding outcomes, even though it is implemented through experimentation programs and the interbureaucratic document system rather than through legislation. It has professionalized the socialist residents’ committees and strengthened their capacity to carry out administrative functions and deliver social care. Thousands of service centres have been built, offering a range of cultural and social services to local residents. This research addresses how the centrally promulgated policy is being implemented locally and what its impacts are in various neighbourhoods. The lens of community building is used to explore how the grass roots organize themselves and how they are defined and governed by the state. The research thus seeks to analyze the impact of Shequ Construction, not through measuring outcomes against the intentions set out in policy documents, but through considering the wider, sometimes unforeseen, implications for other processes going on in the city. Based on fieldwork in Nanjing, the chapters explore the meaning Shequ Construction has in four areas of urban governance: 1) fiscal reform and decentralization of public services, 2) suburban village redevelopment, 3) community-based social service provisioning through the emergent nonprofit sector, and 4) role of homeowners’ association under housing privatization and neighbourhood inequality. By examining the interaction of Shequ Construction with a diverse set of policies, this research demonstrates how policy becomes interpreted during the course of implementation by local agencies as they contend with realities on the ground; and conversely how the Shequ policy alters the course and outcome of other policies and projects simultaneously unfolding. Furthermore, the perspective of policy interactions sheds light on the policy-making process in China. In presenting the Chinese experience, this dissertation seeks to contribute to the broader planning discourse on the function and appropriation of community building as a means of urban governance.

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