Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Urban Studies


Planning and Urban Studies

Major Professor

Marla Nelson


Housing requisition (Fangwu Zhengshou) is defined as the power to take residents’ property for public use by the state. Between 1995 and 2010, one million residential units were relocated from the inner city of Shanghai to the outskirts of the city or suburban counties. Historically, residents have been excluded stakeholders in large-scale urban renewal in post-reform China. Starting in 2011, Shanghai requires residents to vote on property takings for inner-city renewal. In March 2013, residents voted down the Block 59 project in the North Bund area in Shanghai, which marks the first housing requisition project for inner-city redevelopment rejected by residents in Shanghai. This research illustrates how citizen participation frames or structures the relocation decision-making and whether participation matters.

This dissertation investigates four lines of inquiry: 1) How are housing requisition regulations and negotiations shaped at the district level in Shanghai? 2) What roles do the state and local authorities play, and how is this associated with urban redevelopment regimes under neoliberal governance? 3) Do the more “participatory” approaches to housing requisition for urban redevelopment address power relations and conflicts among local groups in different districts? If so, how? 4) What strategies do residents use to negotiate inner-city redevelopment? I utilize qualitative methods to recognize the complexities of citizen participation in urban renewal in Shanghai, and to develop an understanding of the dynamics of citizen participation and governance structures.

The 2011 regulations provide a more transparent, open and interactive process for community residents directly affected by housing requisition projects. However, the term “public interest” is ambiguously defined under the 2011 regulations. Findings suggest that state-led participation in housing requisition is a tool for the government authorities to facilitate economic growth through requisition and strengthen the legitimacy for requisition among the relocated residents. The shift of compensation from counting the number of people in a household to considering the size and value of the apartment illustrates the shift from a social welfare approach to a market approach. The participation schemes promote fairness in a certain way that people who hold out for more compensation lose the power.


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