The “Interstitial Production” of Civil Society: Lawsuits Involving “Neighborhood Agency Rights” in Nanyuan

in Residency, Class, and Community in the Contemporary Chinese City


In the context of transition, the existing scholarship on civil society mainly focuses on three aspects: civil society – community (organization), mutually beneficial interaction between the state and society (relations), and politics – citizenship (rights). Such scholarship takes Western relations between the state and civil society as its starting point for studying the production of independent civil society, either trying to prove whether independent civil society exists or, using normative research, to argue that it ought to exist. In contrast, this article adopts a practical logic to demonstrate that the production of civil society is a reconstruction of new relations between the state and civil society – a production that emerges from interstices within previously dominant networks. Focusing on neighborhoods, this article uses quantitative research methods combining in-depth interviews with content analysis to analyze medium-scale units that reflect social change on a broader scale. According to the logic of “interstitial production,” the state and civil society must transform tactical relations into more stable juridical relations in order to better establish a harmonious society.

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