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Zhiming Sheng

Since the housing reforms of the late 1980s, China’s urban housing provision system has been commercialized. With accelerated urbanization, the real estate industry has developed rapidly, and commercial housing neighborhoods have sprung up like mushrooms in Chinese cities. The boom of the housing market and the large-scale emergence of new neighborhoods have been accompanied by numerous housing-related disputes. A common cause of these disputes is that real estate developers, property management companies, or local government agencies ignore or violate residents’ interests. When this has occurred, some homeowners have been strongly motivated to defend their rights. Indeed, over the past decade, homeowner rights protection activities frequently have taken place. In order to make their efforts more effective, homeowners who live in the same neighborhood and suffer the same problems have banded together to launch collective actions. However, these collective endeavors have ended with different results. Given almost the same institutional environments, why do some homeowners’ rights protection activities succeed while others fail? Which factors influence the outcome of homeowners’ collective action? This chapter aims to answer these questions by analyzing data collected from 191 cases of urban homeowners’ rights protection activities between 1999 and 2012. Drawing on the concepts of organization, strategy, and opportunity structures, this chapter examines the effect of dispute type, number of participants, rightsdefending method, homeowner organization, and government response on the results of homeowners’ collective action. In so doing, the chapter seeks to not only reveal the institutional barriers faced by homeowners in their self-governance of community public affairs, but also to demonstrate the role played by homeowners’ organizations in their collective action. More broadly, the chapter discusses what these findings tell us about state–society relations in contemporary China.