Since 2014, China has formalised rural-to-urban hukou transfer as part of its people-centred approach to urbanisation. This article aims to examine how 'urbanisation of people', a hukou-based reform of rural populations, intersects with 'urbanisation of land', a crucial arena of capital and power accumulation for the state. Building on ethnographic fieldwork research in Fang village, Guangzhou, this article argues that strategies of social governance - public participation under the strengthened role of the state, using law to resolve conflicts, and the state's receptiveness to demands of an economic nature - hold the key to state-led urbanisation. Social governance depoliticises people's engagement in territorial politics by channelling villagers' challenges to state-led urbanisation into a pecuniary discussion of material gain and loss. This article also sheds important light on how China's people-centred planning provides a powerful discursive structure that normalises highly contested local land development practices by giving them national legitimacy and programmatic coherence.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- People-centred planning
- Social conflict
- Social governance
- State-led urbanisation