Neighborhoods and the Governing of Social Distinction
This chapter addresses the social clustering and classification that accompanied the recent housing privatization, which resulted in significant flexibility in the governing strategies. It compares different types of neighborhood and how their residents are differently exposed to techniques of government. It finds that, in gentrified residential areas inhabited by “high suzhi” (upper middle class) citizens, residents enjoy a significant autonomy to govern themselves and successfully avoid the direct control of public neighborhood organizations. In socially troubled neighborhoods, however, the presence and visibility of the state has often increased after the reform and rapid urbanization of the last decade. The practices described by this phenomenon are referred to as “social clustering,” and it is argued that the deployment of such a specific form of government is made possible by a spatial and social classification of social groups to which both public and private actors have contributed.
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