Action Analysis of Multi-Actor Governance in the Regeneration of Communities: A Case Study of Shanghai

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Submission Summary
The regeneration of old communities is currently among the most concerned actions of urban construction in China. Now, it is generally acknowledged that the management and sustainable development of old communities are hard to maintain by solely relying on the government's investment. How to encourage and guide enterprises, social organizations, and residents to participate in the regeneration has become a key issue. With three cases in Shanghai, this paper examines why "multi-actor governance" is so important for the regeneration of communities and proposes a method to analyze the motivation and incentive paths of actors' "actions" systematically, based on relevant sociological theories. The first part discusses the problems of old communities in Shanghai and the necessity of multi-actor governance. Many houses in old communities in Shanghai are owned by the state, whose rents remain low and unchanged for the past two decades, resulting in the shortage of funds for maintenance of the houses. A promising solution is to operate available community assets(such as the state-owned commercial houses or parking spaces) and generate collective earnings, to supplement the repair funds. This requires the collaboration of the government, residents, social organizations, and enterprises. No one can be absent. For example, due to the special system of property rights, the indoor renovation of the house is impossible without the permission of the permanent tenants (use right holders). Therefore, how to connect the collaborative network among all the actors has become a key point in the regeneration of old communities in Shanghai. The second part discusses the effect, obstacles, and intended improvements in recent practices in Shanghai with three cases. Case 1: The local government engaged a private company for Qishan Community to undertake the renewal and management of the blocks. Although the commercial street is running well, the community committee is not satisfied with the service for the management of residential houses and intends to improve it through residents' "self-governance". Case 2: Xinhua Community has been renting out parking spaces to buy security and cleaning services autonomously for more than ten years. But the funds are still insufficient. The community committee hopes to engage community shops in the governance, expand funding channels and hire a professional company to undertake the job of property management. Case 3: Chunyangli Community commissioned a private enterprise to manage idle houses, and thus realized good utilization and maintenance. But how to distribute the generated collective profits so that it's most beneficial to the community remains to be studied. Given the problems in the cases, the third part proposes a theoretical framework of action analysis, to examine how to improve collaborative networks. 1) Based on the Actor-Network Theory, regard the regeneration of communities as a process in which different actors shape and maintain the collaborative network dynamically. A stable network should make everyone satisfied with the empowerment and the distribution of interest. 2) Based on Max Weber's Social Action Theory, regard the regeneration of community as being composed of actors' unit acts, mainly rational and instrumental acts, but also emotional and traditional acts. 3) Based on Parsons’ Social Action Theory and Giddens’ Structuration Theory, regard actors' unit acts as being taken for the purpose of their interest, guided by laws, policies, community plans, and other rules, using allocative resources (e.g. funds and techniques) and authoritative resources (e.g. property rights and administrative power). Afterwards, actors' motivation is analyzed connected with their position in the cooperation network and their relationship with other actors, and the methods of incentives of action are discussed from two aspects: the adjustment of rules and the supply of resources.
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1: Inclusiveness and empowerment. Al-Majlis: planning with and for communities
PhD Student
Tongji University

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