The construction of 'participation' in the China-development work

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The construction of 'participation' in the China-development work

 

Author: Tsang, Yuk-lan
Title: The construction of 'participation' in the China-development work
Degree: M.Phil.
Year: 2004
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Rural development -- China -- Citizen participation
Economic development -- China -- Citizen participation
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: iv, 243 leaves ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1786397
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/3041
Abstract: This study is about the operation of the discourse of participatory rural appraisal (PRA) in the China-development field, particularly how domestic development organizations encounter and appropriate this discourse. The study employs an actor-oriented approach. This approach believes that people participate in social change should not be considered as passive subjects of the economic, social or institutional structures, but rather as agents whose strategies and interactions shape the outcome of development. Therefore, how domestic development organizations act carry analytical significance that may be overlooked by other approaches. In this light, political conflicts at the local level and the interactions of domestic and international development organizations deserve attention, particularly how they affect the way poor people decide and act in development processes. Focusing on PRA in my study, I find that current development discourse that promotes civil society has often drawn on the idea of participatory development. For international organizations that adopt a neo-liberal stance such as the World Bank, the introduction of market forces would automatically and ultimately lead to the emergence of civil society. Based on this assumption which of the links between economic and political liberalization, the expansion of the market would suffice to create the burgeoning of intermediate organizations. It is believed that an active civil society made up of these intermediate organizations that would act as a counter-balance to central political power. In fact, with the introduction of market reforms, the role of the Chinese government has changed in economic and social affairs; but it does not mean that its power has shrunk. Our study found that domestic development organizations may not be autonomous in their relationship with the state. The top-down nature of 'participation' revealed in the relationship of the state and the domestic development organizations suggest that the numerical growth of domestic development organizations would not be a relevant indicator in assessing the nature of civil society in China. On the contrary, there are tensions between the Chinese government, domestic development organization and international organizations at different levels. In my research, I found that the sensitivity of domestic development organizations towards political issues may explain why they present development programs and strategies as neutral, professional, thus covering up the political conflicts that it entails.

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