From village to small town in contemporary China : the transformation of civic space
Author(s)Guo, Ming, M.C.P. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
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With the fast urbanization in contemporary China, "spontaneous" civic spaces rooted in the rural area-the spaces in which local people of different origins and paths of life can commingle without overt control by government, commercial or other private interests have been excluded from numerous newly planned and rebuilt villages/small towns. Current physical planning system is playing an important role in pushing this "modernization" process, called by the government. Through using the term "public space" rather than "civic space" in the national planning standards, which in Chinese context implies public ownership or direct management by the state, the development of civic spaces in the rural China is purposely or unintentionally adjusted away from its original direction in the west and away from the actual requirement of a healthy civil society. Through implementing physical plans based on these standards, the governments are actually assisting the process of intensifying surveillance and controls over "public spaces", and diminishing certain types of "spontaneous" civic spaces. To explore this emerging issue in the local-state context during modem time, the discussion begins by exploring the concept of civic space in China's natural growth settlements and its relationship to civil society, the state and economy.(cont.) An effort to sum up the western definitions of civil society is made in order to figure out whether any Chinese definitions diverged from western definitions and whether China has ever had a "civil society." Despite most of scholars believed that civil society in China is a rather new phenomenon, both as a concept and as a reality, the author argues that for a long time, everyday forms of civil society and related civic spaces have existed in China's natural growth villages, in relation to state and economy. Given these clarifications, the author is trying to make a general summary on how the rise of civil society in the local community intersecting with China's modernization process can be observed in the local civic spaces. Different types of civic spaces in the natural growth villages will be identified as a means to contrast with "public space" in current national standards and its implementation. The author proposed the changing of language from "public space" to "civic space" to be the first step for providing "spontaneous" civic spaces toward a healthier civil society. Thus, incorporating the social development planning and planning review process as an extension and integral part into current physical planning system will ensure that the physical plan will take account of the "spontaneous" civic spaces and relevant social factors important to the local people.(cont.) A participatory planning approach is stressed as a means of both improving the quality and implementability of the physical plans and giving local people more control over their own lives.
Thesis (M.C.P.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2005.Includes bibliographical references (leaves 99-103).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.