Governing the Neighborhood with Confucian Ideas

Wai-Hang Yee, Weijie Wang, Terry L Cooper

Abstract


Attributes of communities have long been considered a major influence on people’s self-organized governing behavior (Ostrom 2005). Does Confucianism, a widely shared set of traditional ideas, inform Chinese homeowners in governing their neighborhoods? Based on in-depth interviews with 27 homeowner association (HOA) organizers from 16 neighborhoods in Beijing, we found evidence suggesting that their governing behaviors were informed by traditional Confucian conceptual distinctions and normative expectations: Stringent expectations were found on HOA organizers to serve with purely “public” motives and renounce “private” ones; neighborhood management, meanwhile, was not merely considered as a means for improving living conditions, but a patriotic act of serving the country. Arguably, these meanings corresponded to the Confucian ideal of junzi and its guide to moral cultivation. They helped sustain homeowners’ participation and promote a social norm that maintained accountability for their behaviors. The findings suggest further research on neighborhood governance, and contribute to the reforming governance of contemporary China.


Keywords


Self-governance; neighborhood governance; Comparative Public Administration

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22140/cpar.v9i2.159

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Chinese Public Administration Review (ISSN 1539-6754, Online ISSN 2573-1483)  is published by the Institute for Public Service at Suffolk University - Boston.