Governance in China’s Urban (Re)development: Rethinking State Entrepreneurialism from an Assemblage Perspective



governance, urban (re)development, urban China, assemblage perspective




China’s (re)development is characterized by state-led, large-scale, and multi-level: The state usually plays the leading role in driving such practices to maintain strong control over changes regarding spatial, economic, and political landscapes; Such projects usually package a range of urban functions, including office and industrial buildings, commercial districts, housing, and various amenities and facilities; And (re)development activities might happen at multiple levels, covering region, urban, and neighborhood scales. The governance model in such practices has been identified as state entrepreneurialism, which combines planning centrality, market instruments, and observable social agencies. Previous studies tried to decipher the characteristics of state entrepreneurialism from multiple dimensions separately, e.g., the spatial dimension, the temporal dimension, or the relational dimension. However, an integrated perspective to portray the full picture of state entrepreneurialism is missing.
Assemblage, in this regard, is a concept that is able to take all these dimensions into account. To be more specific, assemblage thinking, ontologically, emphasizes a framework to conceptualize socio-material entities as a set of relations across different spatiotemporal domains. However, for a long time, studies trying to introduce assemblage related perspectives to governance treated ‘assemblage’ more as a descriptive narrative to refer to the (high) extent of the complexity, and yet no substantive frameworks or prescriptions have been developed for it. Rethinking governance in China’s (re)development from an assemblage perspective is of a twofold meaning: 1) integrating previous research dimensions to re-examine state entrepreneurialism; 2) combining empirical evidence to concretize the conceptualization of governance as ‘assemblage’.