Governing through Shequ/community: The Shanghai example

T. Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the government-led community/shequ project in urban Shanghai as a new social institution designed to solve some of the emerging social problems associated with economic reforms. Community-building seeks to move away from a model based on direct government towards a model of structured self-governance. Together with the family and the schools, shequ form a bulwark against moral degeneration in the society. More importantly, infusing shequ with "moral purpose" also revitalizes the Party's legitimacy at the grassroots. This paper elucidates the ways in which shequ governance attempts to make up the spiritual and moral shortfall in society through the example of "civilizing campaigns" (wenming huodong). Using the new category of "new Shanghainese", this paper argues that in making the distinction between those fit to govern themselves and those, for various reasons, must be governed by others, new notions of citizenship are being created. However, communities are seen to have a morally uplifting character and a generally positive influence in the formation of citizen-subjects. © Institute of China Studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-231
JournalInternational Journal of China Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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