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Sense of Community, Neighboring, and Social Capital as Predictors of Local Political Participation in China

Authors
  • Xu, Qingwen1
  • Perkins, Douglas D.2
  • Chow, Julian Chun-Chung3
  • 1 Boston College, Graduate School of Social Work, 140 Commonwealth Ave, Chestnut Hill, MA, 02467, USA , Chestnut Hill (United States)
  • 2 Vanderbilt University, Center for Community Studies, Graduate Program in Community Research & Action, Department of Human & Organization Development, Peabody College #90, Nashville, TN, 37203-5701, USA , Nashville (United States)
  • 3 University of California at Berkeley, School of Social Welfare, 120 Haviland Hall #7400, Berkeley, CA, 94720-7400, USA , Berkeley (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
American Journal of Community Psychology
Publisher
Springer US
Publication Date
Mar 14, 2010
Volume
45
Issue
3-4
Pages
259–271
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10464-010-9312-2
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

This study examines the state of sense of community, neighboring behavior, and social capital in the People’s Republic of China, and explores their ability to predict local political participation, in the form of voting in elections for Urban Resident/Rural Villager Committees. Using a nationally representative survey, rural, older and married residents and those with a primary or high school education and higher perceived socio-economic status are more likely to participate. In rural areas, men are more likely than women to vote. For urban residents, knowing one’s neighbors is more important whereas in rural areas, neighboring behavior is more important, but both predict voting. Social capital does not generally predict Chinese people’s local political participation. Western definitions of social capital derived from theories about networking, bonding and bridging ties may be too culturally individualistic for China, whose collectivist society and agrarian kinship networks predate Communism. Simply knowing and helping one’s neighbors, rather than more abstract notions of trust, reciprocity or membership, may lead to the development of local democracy.

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