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Delivering common property in Chinese contractual communities: Law, power and practice

Franziska Sielker (SRF TU Wien), Yiru Jia (Beijing Forestry University, China) und Nicky Morrison (Western Sydney University, Australia)

Picture of Franziska Sielker in front of a white background

This paper examines how common property is produced and delineated in contractual communities in China. Shanghai, one of the most developed Chinese cities with a burgeoning housing market, is used as a case study. The research analyses the power relations between land, construction and housing departments within Shanghai district governments and with developers, specifically, during the development phases of land leasing, construction permission and ownership registration. Drawing on the theoretical framework of new institutionalism, and its conception of path dependency in urban space, the article sheds light on what has led to the infringement on homeowners’ common property by developers. In a weak legal and regulatory system for property development, the departments within district governments shirk responsibility to each other, whereas developers hold considerable power. The article concludes that common property bears the imprint of power dynamics set in motion in the development phase and thus requires greater recognition.

Keywords: common property, contractual communities, new institutionalism, power relations, urban China


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