Not Rural but Not Urban: Community Governance in China's Urban Villages

Beibei Tang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


China's urbanization has created a large number of urban villages which, although they have been transferred to urban administration, have maintained their collective economies. Using a comparative perspective, this article investigates how villagers, the village collectives and the urban administration organize community governance in three urban villages on the fringes of the cities of Guangzhou, Wuhan and Shenyang. The findings suggest that successful village collective shareholding companies play a leading role in community governance by providing villagers with economic and social welfare, subsidizing community administration services, and mobilizing residents. The comparative analysis also shows that village shareholding companies employ different mechanisms based on the varied histories of their village collective economies, the ability of the village collectives to mobilize resources, and the degree to which the village collectives are engaged in the grassroots administrative structure. The article argues that the "not rural but not urban" governance mode of the urban villages illustrates China's fragmented urbanization planning. At the same time, it illuminates the dynamics of state-society relations during China's urbanization and how landless villagers and village collectives respond to urban transformation by adopting different strategies to preserve their individual and collective interests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)724-744
Number of pages21
JournalChina Quarterly
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2015


  • Community governance
  • collective shareholding companies
  • shequ
  • urban villages
  • urbanization

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