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The Government Next DoorNeighborhood Politics in Urban China$
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Luigi Tomba

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452826

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452826.001.0001

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Micro-Governing the Urban Crisis

Micro-Governing the Urban Crisis

(p.62) 2 Micro-Governing the Urban Crisis
The Government Next Door

Luigi Tomba

Cornell University Press

This chapter focuses on the formal structures of administration and government (the resident committees and community committees, shequ weiyuanhui) in the city of Shenyang, where industrial decline required an overhaul of neighborhood governance to deliver essential services to a large number of unemployed people through grassroots organization. It considers both the working practices of these offices and the role of community cadres. One of the by-products of the devolution of social functions to the shequs is a new generation of low-level cadres who are often forced to engage with the social distress produced by the recent transition. The chapter investigates the careers, experiences, perceptions, and strategies of these cadres (often themselves the victims of economic restructuring) directly involved in the reproduction of Party rhetoric but also exposed to the struggles of the disenfranchised. It suggests that, while the burden of governing in middle-class neighborhoods is becoming “lighter,” the government of social distress involves more resources, “heavier” governing practices, and new challenges at the grassroots level, according to a strategy known as micro-governing. This trend signals the continuity of paternalistic practices of socialist governance.

Keywords:   Shenyang, neighborhood governance, Chinese neighborhoods, social distress, unemployed, socialist governance, micro-governing

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