Under China's “Western Development” plan, inland China has witnessed massive urban expansion and land development, but little is known about the consequent stratification among relocated communities. This study examines the urbanization process on the outskirts of the Municipality of Yinchuan in northwestern China. Previous studies have focused on how urbanization impoverished or enriched rural communities, while this study examines how relocated communities (or teams) were differentiated in their compensation and relocation outcomes, as a combined outcome of policies and resource structures. Quantitative evidence suggests that urbanization has led to both between-team and within-team variations, and qualitative analyses illustrate why even the “lucky” teams always had “unlucky” villagers in compensation outcomes. Between-team variations were often used to mobilize collective resistance to strive for better compensation, but the rise of within-team variations has undermined the grassroots alliance against “unfair” policies. Villagers were more obsessed with individual competition of property investment based on their wealth and self-financing capabilities, but they also complained about “unjust” competition, such as the appropriation of resources based on cadres' privileges and connections. Although individual competition was celebrated under the official neoliberal market-oriented narratives, the decline of collective patronage and the resentment toward cadres' rent-seeking behaviors have added to tensions within relocated communities and contributed to their fragmentation.
Bibliographical noteThe study was supported by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region , China (General Research Fund, CUHK14609219 ), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41901140 ), the Worldwide Universities Network, and the Research Committee of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Direct Grant). We thank Professor Shanhua Yang and his research team at Peking University for research collaboration.
- Northwestern China
- Rural communities