Urbanisation, Economic Reform and the Transformation of the Neighbourhood in Transitional Viet Nam

Project: Research

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Viet Nam is developing fast and its connection with Hong Kong is very close. It is also the country with which China is often compared in the study of the transitional economies. This project aims to advance our understanding of Viet Nam, particularly at the micro-level, by examining the impacts of the socio-economic change at the residential neighbourhood, the arena in which structure intersects with agency. The neighbourhood arouses renewed interest among academics and policy makers in the West on its impact as a key domain for the transmission of shared values and norms and as building block of social cohesion. Yet, the importance of the neighbourhood has been undermined in Viet Nam in the past owing to strong kinship tie. However, they have a long history of taking the neighbourhood as arena of social control and political mobilization in the pre-reform era. The economic reform, Doi Moi, and the associated rapid industralisation and urbanization have brought profound transformation to the neighbourhood. First, it weakens both the capacity of kinship network and the state in providing necessary services and crucial support to residents. Hence, the recreation of neighbourhood social and service networks can be a solution. Second, the neighbourhood is also where entrepreneurial activities started. This often marks the beginning of the institutionalisation of the informal economy. Third, old apparatus of social control at the neighbourhood has been eroded by the economic reform, the neigbhourhood has instead transformed into a venue of negotiation between the state and local residents. This hinges on to the changing state-society relation and connects closely to the development of the civil society. This project will employ multiple methodologies, survey, indepth interview, observation, focus group etc, to collect information on various aspects of the neighbourhood, which include, social and kinship networks, formal and informal provision of services, the informal economy, the role of the ward offices and their interaction with local residents. Such information enables us to explore the changing faces of the neighbourhood in social, economic and political aspects as well as to offer empirically based and culturally specific information on social change in transitional economies. This project can also allow the research team to produce synergy with what they find in this project with their research on the neighbourhood in China and elsewhere in enriching our understanding of the transitional economies as well as on the study of the neigbhourhood.


Project number9041619
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/1121/09/15