Chapter 9: Differentiated neighbourhood governance in transitional urban China: comparative study of two housing estates in Guangzhou
Chinese cities are presently made up of a mix of neighbourhoods, produced by the state or private investors. With the institutional reforms, the urban housing system has since the 1980s witnessed the change from housing supply as welfare towards housing produced and marketed as a commodity. Because this reform was implemented along various paths and through different stages, Chinese cities are now characterized by the coexistence of different housing types, produced by the state or private investors. Besides urbanized villages and residual pre-1949 private buildings, housing types range from the housing stock produced and distributed by the work units (danwei) during the socialist period, most of which were later sold to the occupants at a low price (fanggaifang), to non-subsidized property provided by private developers according to market mechanisms (shangpingfang). In between are hybrid types such as economical housing or what our study calls 'welfare housing', where the residential units were built by the danwei in order to be sold at a reduced price to their employees. This can be regarded as a transitional arrangement. The coexistence of different housing types can be interpreted either in the context of institutional transition or as a phenomenon of social disintegration. In any case, the differentiation of production modes crucially goes along with a differentiation of neighbourhood governance. This chapter analyses this in detail, based on two narratives of stakeholder interaction and local decision-making in two housing estates with different development paths.
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