“Co-production” as an alternative in post-political China? Conceptualizing the legitimate power over participation in neighborhood regeneration practices

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number104462
Journal / PublicationCities
Online published12 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


Drawing upon recent post-political critiques on ineffective participation and urban planning, this paper reflects on the challenges facing participatory and collaborative planning in China's latest neighborhood regeneration practices. In 2017, Guangzhou launched a new micro-scale neighborhood regeneration program that shifted the discursive emphasis on participatory planning while China strives to create a new national image of a “people's city”. This paper critically examines the implementation of old community renovation policies in 32 Chinese provinces and 776 neighborhood regeneration projects in Guangzhou. By examining the objectives and outcomes of legitimate power over participation, we uncover institutional conditions, implementation issues, and local responses in different participatory planning configurations. We found that a “co-production” model emerged in China, highlighting the role of institutionalized participatory planning activities. The conclusion is threefold: 1) Shared objectives in the emerging neighborhood regeneration discourse constitute legitimate power over participation in China's neighborhood regeneration; 2) The outcomes of legitimate power over participation are reflected in the local responses to the “co-production” activities; and 3) The “co-production” model—to produce planning schemes through co-design and joint-negotiation among multi-scalar actors including planners and residents—performs as an alternative to immature collaborative planning in China. Local governments can skillfully avoid direct confrontations with residents by introducing the function of community planners. These institutional arrangements of “co-production” have profoundly impacted the reshuffling of the state-society relationship in post-political China. While the implementation of China's latest neighborhood regeneration policy shows post-political risks in terms of depoliticized narratives, instrumentalized planning strategies, and technicized planning tools, we find “co-production” to be fruitful in promoting substantive participation and stimulating the accumulation of local knowledge. © 2023 Elsevier Ltd

Research Area(s)

  • Collaborative planning, Conflict-consensus debate, Neighborhood regeneration, Participation, Post-politics