Peopling state entrepreneurialism: symbiotic state-civil society relations and urban village rehabilitation in Shenzhen

Authors: Shaun Teo*, National University of Singapore
Topics: Urban Geography, China, Asia
Keywords: state entrepreneurialism, Shenzhen, China, urban governance, state-society relations, urban redevelopment
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 4:50 AM / 6:05 AM
Room: Virtual 16
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Although much has been written about state entrepreneurialism as a unique model of urban governance driving China’s reform and opening up, local governments have mainly been framed as market players and competitors over economic targets set by central government. Scholars have argued that more is needed on the precise ways in which local governments formulate and implement their own extra-economic entrepreneurial policies. This paper adopts a ‘peopled’ analytical approach to state entrepreneurialism to interrogate who can come to feature as part of a local entrepreneurial state, the everyday aspirations and interactions between these actors, and the resultant policymaking outcomes. It shows how a group of influential officials in the Shenzhen Planning Bureau, responding to their perceived unsustainability of the municipality’s urban village demolition model, crafted the Shenzhen Biennale to invite civil society professionals to collaboratively formulate and implement an alternative urban village redevelopment model. Yet, by excluding urban village migrant residents in the policymaking process, post-policy reform village rehabilitation initiatives have brought about a model not dissimilar to gentrification, creating new opportunities but also limitations for urban village residents. By seeing the local entrepreneurial state for its people, new avenues for interaction and dialogue open up multiple ways of relating and participating in policymaking process, showing how local governments might work beyond mere GDP-ism to also experiment with future-proofing their cities, and the new lines of inequality this might create.

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