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WANG CHUNGUANG: Democratic consultation useful to community governance

| 2015-03-03 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Governments at all levels are increasingly attaching importance to community in social governance. Some local governments have begun to seek new ways of community governance, which are of academic value for us to know about community transformation and social governance.  

A work station is established in the community. It takes on the task of addressing problems while the community neighborhood committee is in charge of discussing problems, focusing on community autonomy. Meanwhile, the government reduces funds to the community neighborhood committee.

However, this way is hard to effectively implement. On one hand, community work lacks sufficient funds from the government. On the other hand, staff at work stations are newcomers who are not familiar with the community. They need help from the neighborhood committee, which reduces the efficiency of public service and community governance. 

Lists can be made for the services purchased by the government from the community. The community can refuse to undertake the services if the government doesn’t provide money. The local government exerts this measure by promoting the mutual cooperation among the community, social work and the social organization. The problem with this way lies in the lack of talents for social work as well as social organizations. Correspondingly, grassroots cadres have no upgraded concepts and even exclude social organizations and social work.

Democratic participation has been viewed as an important way of community governance since the 1980s. A council for discussing affairs is established in some places where members are mainly recommended by villager groups. To some extent, this reflects the interests of all villagers and can be well implemented. Residents have begun to care about the development of the community and are more willing to participate in public affairs in the community. However, there is no institutional guarantee for the discussing council.

The relationship for purchasing public services can be established between the community and the government. In this way, the community service center takes on public services and its scope of services is expanded. This is not only conducive to promoting the quality of public services but also draws the attention of the neighbor committee to community governance. However, the community service center has no functions of law enforcement. The government’s capacity of enforcement is weakened to some extent. 

The aforementioned schemes are all concerning a key question, namely whether the democratic consultation mechanism is established in community governance.

Democratic consultation is mainly carried out centered on livelihood issues that the public are concerned about. It provides the public with participation rights, rights to know and expression rights, achieving social fairness and justice that the public are pursuing. Democratic consultation can be reflected on two levels.

The first is the relations between the community and government. By means of democratic consultation, the government can mobilize residents to join in and supervise the government’s decision-making. The second is the decision-making of internal affairs in the community. Residents may make decisions on community affairs through democratic consultation, cementing the unity and harmony of the community.

Institutional construction is required to ensure the implementation of democratic consultation. Firstly, the system of democratic consultation should be established and included in community governance. Secondly, technical support for democratic consultation should be provided, such as introducing knowledge on democratic consultation, compiling brochures of democratic consultation and carrying out experiments of democratic consultation in the community. Thirdly, community residents may formulate some consultative rules through democratic consultation. Fourthly, professional organizations and staff should participate in work of democratic consultation in a bid to promote the level and quality of residents’ democratic consultation.  


Wang Chunguang  is a research fellow from the Institute of Sociology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.