Administrative reclassification and neighborhood governance in urbanizing China

Juan Chen, Karita Kan, Deborah S. Davis

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Before the economic reforms, the Chinese state relied on mutually exclusive hierarchies within and between rural and urban governance at the subnational level to structure administration, organize populations, and exert political authority. Other than spatial restructuring and population transformation, urbanization in China also involves rural-to-urban administrative reclassification of territories. Drawing on a 2018 national survey conducted in 40 townships, this article addresses how administrative reclassification has produced transitional neighborhoods with varied modes of governance and distinctive patterns of help-seeking among residents. The empirical data indicate that, even after completion of the rural-to-urban administrative reclassification at the township or county level, many rural villages have not been well incorporated into the urban administrative system. Although the number of reported neighborhood problems increased, respondents residing in reclassified areas were less willing to seek help from the villagers’ or residents’ committees than those residing in locations that faced no administrative change. Some residents turned to property management whereas others attempted to bring the issues directly to higher levels of local government. Viewed through the territorial logic that has long characterized local governance in China, the research raises questions about the impact of administrative reclassification on neighborhood governance as urbanization continues.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103386
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Administrative reclassification
  • China
  • Neighborhood governance
  • Survey
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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