Is the incipient Chinese civil society playing a role in regenerating historic urban areas? Evidence from Nanjing, Suzhou and Shanghai

Giulio Verdini*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Urban regeneration in Western countries can count on a long-lasting tradition of experiences in which civil society has played a fundamental role in counterbalancing the system of power, resulting in profound urban governance readjustments. This has been the result of the increasing centrality of horizontal alliances between citizens and associations involved in urban affairs since the late 1960s in the West. Similar theoretical frameworks have been applied in China. However, these have frequently resulted in conceptual shortcuts that depict civil society as immature or lacking and the state as authoritarian. This paper will explore whether these categories are still entirely valid to urban regeneration in China. While the regime has traditionally prevented horizontal linkages of associations in urban governance (supporting their vertical integration to ensure a certain degree of soft control), there are signs of change. In particular, three cases of urban regeneration in historic areas will be used to discuss the changing role played by civil society in China. The ultimate goal is to examine whether horizontal linkages across groups of heterogeneous citizens are arising at the micro-level of urban governance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-372
Number of pages7
JournalHabitat International
Volume50
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015

Keywords

  • China
  • Civil society
  • Community
  • Historic districts
  • Horizontal linkages
  • Urban regeneration

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