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Project Details
Funding Scheme : General Research Fund
Project Number : 17617921
Project Title(English) : The Authoritarian Commons: The Co-Evolution of Law and Social Norms in China's Urban Residential Neighborhoods  
Project Title(Chinese) : 城市中国的小区治理:法律与社会的共同演进 
Principal Investigator(English) : Dr Qiao, Shitong 
Principal Investigator(Chinese) : 乔仕彤 
Department : Department of Law
Institution : The University of Hong Kong
Co - Investigator(s) :
Panel : Humanities, Social Sciences
Subject Area : Social and Behavioural Sciences
Exercise Year : 2021 / 22
Fund Approved : 1,255,474
Project Status : On-going
Completion Date : 30-6-2024
Abstract as per original application
(English/Chinese):
My overarching research question is how the state and law interact with homeowners' self-governance effort in China's urban residential neighborhoods. Neighborhood governance in urban China has come to a new age featuring a fundamental governance crisis. Compared to what urban neighborhoods were twenty years ago when most private housing projects were newly constructed, they are facing more urgent governance problems arising from both building aging and deterioration and inadequate institutional infrastructure. The last three years have witnessed both national and local legal and policy initiatives to address such an urban governance crisis. The proposed research project coins the term "authoritarian commons" to capture the dynamic interactions between the authoritarian state and homeowners’ effort to create liberal commons in their neighborhoods. Condominium ownership is the only legal form of urban housing ownership in China’s Property Law and the new Civil Code. Common property rights shared by all homeowners include not only the right to manage common space but also the right to form an autonomous institution, i.e., a homeowners' association ("HoA"), to govern their own neighborhoods. Yet, such urban commons grow in an authoritarian state whose tradition is to exercise monopolistic control by relying on either local government agencies or real estate management companies to manage neighborhoods. The implementation of homeowner self-governance depends largely on each municipality. According to the data verified in a pilot project, 94% of the condominium neighborhoods in Shanghai have set up homeowners’ associations, compared with 41% in Shenzhen and 12% in Beijing. Different municipal governments adopt different approaches to deal with homeowner self-governance due to their varying capacity to govern, the risk to social stability and local economic conditions. Based on these three variables, I will investigate the law and practice of HoAs in six Chinese cities, including the three megacities above. I will conduct the first-ever study digging into the two-decade development of homeowners’ associations in urban China to examine the interplay between the authoritarian state and communities. This research project will be a natural extension of my previous well-noted study on Chinese small/informal property that elucidates the co-evolution of law and social norms. Drawing on mixed methods including a comprehensive examination of national and local legislative and judicial data, ethnographic fieldwork and questionnaire surveys, this project endeavors to further my co-evolution theory by examining the interactions between state and communities in China's ongoing urban governance crisis.
本项目计划研究在中国主要城市小区治理面临的挑战及解决办法,特别关注其中国家和社会的互动。拟在多个城市进行深入的田野调查,同时系统分析相关的立法和司法实践。理论上计划对法律与社会共同演进的框架予以拓展。
Research Outcome
Layman's Summary of
Completion Report:
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  SCREEN ID: SCRRM00542