Neighbourhood Governance in Post-Socialist States: A Comparison Between Vietnam and China

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal III (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Ngai Ming YIP, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Hoai Anh TRAN, Malmo University, Sweden
The neighbourhood has a long tradition as an important arena of social control and political mobilization in countries in Asia. It has been particularly imperative amongst authoritative socialist regimes like China and Viet where main agents of the party state had been penetrated down to the grassroots. Notwithstanding state control in the economic arena has been much weakened when the countries transit further into capitalism, the party state has, arguably, been able to maintain robust authoritarian resilience in the social and political arenas. In China, residents’ committees at the neighbourhood have been rejuvenated to take on new functions and hence created impetus in reclaiming the vacuum of social control at the grassroots caused by the dismantling of the work-unit system. Likewise in Vietnam, the local ward governments are able to sustain their authority and influence in the neighbourhood. Yet research in both Vietnam and China has revealed more perplex pictures of neighbourhood governance beyond what has been observed at the surface. In China, the quest for self-management by homeowners’ associations, which has been empowered to take on the responsibility of neighbourhood management, has put the domination of residents' committee under constant challenge. Whereas in Vietnam, acts of individual residents in making more living space and extending the informal economy in the neighbourhood has pushed the ward officials from being an agent for grassroots control to be mediators between the state and the residents. This paper attempts to exploit the extensive data that have been collected by the authors in both China and Vietnam, via document review, surveys, indepth interviews and observations, in looking at the transformation of neighbourhood governance in the transitional economies in Asia. Through such windows, a new form of “negotiated authoritarianism” which has been manifested at the grassroots, can be systematically explored.