Handbook on Urban Development in China
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Handbook on Urban Development in China

Edited by Ray Yep, June Wang and Thomas Johnson

The trajectory and logic of urban development in post-Mao China have been shaped and defined by the contention between domestic and global capital, central and local state and social actors of different class status and endowment. This urban transformation process of historic proportion entails new rules for distribution and negotiation, novel perceptions of citizenship, as well as room for unprecedented spontaneity and creativity. Based on original research by leading experts, this book offers an updated and nuanced analysis of the new logic of urban governance and its implications.
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Chapter 16: Informal migrant settlements and urban grassroots stability

Edmund W. Cheng


Rapid rural-urban migration and urbanization tend to cause spatial contestation and socio-political instabilities. This phenomenon has travelled across time and space but delimited in China. This chapter reveals the institutional legacies including the hukou, land and danwei systems to sanction factory dormitory and guarantee exit points. But it stresses the roles of intermediate agencies comprise resident committees, joint-stock companies, and clan networks. By revealing the mechanisms of differentiated public goods provision and social engagement in various informal migrant settlements in China’s metropolis, this chapter explains how these intermediaries have thrived along with service privatization and community governance. It also analyses the mechanisms through which crime rates are controlled, public amenities are produced and service contracts are distributed in the locale. Consolidating a web of clients and reinforce one another’s independence, these grassroots agencies effectively keep migrant contestation dispersed and manageable.

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