Empowered Autonomy: The Politics of Community Governance Innovations in Shanghai, China

Chunrong Liu


This paper examines the nature, process, and implication of recent community governance reforms in Shanghai with a focus on the potential role of these institutional innovations in generating social solidarity as heralded by social capital and civil society theories. Case analysis demonstrates that the practice of democratic governance creates institutional space and organizational resources for informal, public, and day-to-day engagement among residents. The elected residents’ committee system has become an extraordinary source of community sociability and solidarity. This is summarized and explained by the notion of “empowered autonomy,” in which state-led governance reforms stimulate and thicken horizontal networks and norms of reciprocity within a society.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22140/cpar.v5i1/2.81


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Chinese Public Administration Review (ISSN 1539-6754, Online ISSN 2573-1483)  is published by the School of Government, Sun Yat-sen University.