Accepted paper:

Differenciated (dis)possessions in urbanizing China's public goods provision

Author:

Anne-Christine Trémon (Université de Lausanne)

Paper short abstract:

Current policies of public good provisioning in urbanising China rest on an ideological reinvigoration of socialist values at the same time as a principle of territorial-based entitlements and a logic of maximization of real-estate generated value. They continue to sustain wide inequalities.

Paper long abstract:

Current policies of public good provisioning in urbanising China display many contradictions. Although they rest on an ideological reinvigoration of socialist values, they are fundamentally based on territorial-based entitlements and a logic of maximization of real-estate generated value. They therefore continue to sustain wide inequalities. This paper examines the contradictory processes and unequal consequences of public goods provisioning in Chinese urban villages, former rural communities that have been engulfed by the expansion of cities. Being the main recipients of the massive inflow of migrants workers from China's provinces, they crystallise the challenges posed by the sweeping economic transformations and rapid urbanisation that China is undergoing. In Shenzhen, village collectives have until very recently been largely left to their own devices in providing public goods, and they've restricted them to the small minority of native villagers. In recent years, urban villagers have been partly dispossessed of their land-use rights as part of a policy that is meant to transform them into proper 'civilized' urban neighbourhoods and generate fiscal revenue. This has been accompanied by a notable increase in government-funded provision of public goods (such as public squares, transportation, education, elderly and child-care). However, even if outsiders (migrant workers) have gained some access to them, many of these goods remain largely out of reach. Their very provision actually rests on their cheap labour and volunteering, another kind of dispossession.

panel P012
Ideologies of dispossession along the private/public conundrum [Anthropology of Economy Network]