An introduction to planning China's communities: Between people and place

Nick R. Smith, Dani El B. Abramson, Mi Shih

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This introductory essay to the special issue on community development and planning in contemporary China outlines the contours of a 'community turn' in the nation's urban planning and policy. We trace the historical roots and contemporary debates of community development and planning in China with reference to three problematics that run through the articles in this special issue - community, people and place. We explore how community is defined, how people are interpellated and engaged in planning and development processes, and how the specificity of place is dealt with in China's predominantly top-down system of governance. The increasing socio-spatial unevenness of China's urban and rural communities has demanded a diversification of community-level planning modes, approaches and participants, exposing the limitations of the party-state's continuing scientistic paternalism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-268
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Development Planning Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development


  • China
  • Community
  • Community development
  • Community planning
  • Place-specificity


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