Driving Force of Grassroots Self-governance in Beijing’s Neighborhoods: Social Capital, Community Network and Community Service Motivation

  • Xingyu Qian Tsinghua University, School of Public Policy and Management https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4114-3932
  • Yuanqing Cai Tsinghua University, School of Public Policy and Management
  • Chengzhi Yin Tsinghua University, School of Public Policy and Management
Keywords: self-governance, social capital, Residents' Committee (RC), Community Work Station (CWS), Beijing


Placed at the bottom of China’s urban governance system, residents’ committees led by street offices are not only responsible for welfare provision but also imposing sociopolitical control on residents at grassroots society. With a large number of floating population flooding into Beijing in recent years, the demographic structure of its neighborhoods becomes increasingly diversified, which is likely to cause some latent social instabilities. Consequently, more and more residents’ committees are authorized to establish community work stations to underpin the function of grassroots governance and shift administrative responsibilities from superior governments. Since urban neighborhoods in China are actually an acquaintance society in the “differential mode of association (差序格局)”, the self-enforcement and self-governance of community work station depends on acquaintanceship and interaction between local residents, residents’ committees and community work stations. This article intends to explore the operation of grassroots self-governance by a case of Panjiayuan Neighborhood in Chaoyang District of Beijing. The empirical study based on mixed methods of qualitative interview and quantitative survey has revealed that community work stations led by resident’s committees is an arena of self-governance and its operational mechanism is driven by social capital under the mediator of community network, within which social capital will be accumulated and proliferated in the neighborhood, and resident’s motivation for voluntary cooperation will be intensified as well.


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