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Land Bargains and Chinese Capitalism
The Politics of Property Rights under Reform

$34.99 (P)

  • Date Published: October 2015
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107539877

$ 34.99 (P)
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About the Authors
  • Land reforms have been critical to the development of Chinese capitalism over the last several decades, yet land in China remains publicly owned. This book explores the political logic of reforms to land ownership and control, accounting for how land development and real estate have become synonymous with economic growth and prosperity in China. Drawing on extensive fieldwork and archival research, the book tracks land reforms and urban development at the national level and in three cities in a single Chinese region. The study reveals that the initial liberalization of land was reversed after China's first contemporary real estate bubble in the early 1990s and that property rights arrangements at the local level varied widely according to different local strategies for economic prosperity and political stability. In particular, the author links fiscal relations and economic bases to property rights regimes, finding that more “open” cities are subject to greater state control over land.

    • Proposes a novel treatment of property rights as political accommodations
    • Helps China specialists and non-specialists make sense of why construction, real estate, and land development seem the core of China's growth
    • Makes use of a subnational, comparative research design
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "This bold, deeply researched study of how three northeastern cities in China disparately redefined the rights to and the usage of urban property to placate losers while facilitating economic reform is not just a model of the comparative method. Its insight about how the search for state legitimacy and the underwriting of what were really political deals with moral language is also a novel way of making sense of one facet of China's relentless commercialization. It will appeal to political economists and China scholars alike."
    Dorothy Solinger, University of California, Irvine

    "Control of land is one of the fundamental challenges of economic development in China, and formal property rights are thought to be the sine qua non of economic growth. Yet, in this important new book Rithmire shows that property rights over land in China are anything but uniform, static, and predictable. Instead, she finds that property rights emerge as a particular bargain between local actors and social groups in a context of real uncertainty and regional experimentation. The book not only uncovers a critical aspect of how development really works in China, but it also significantly broadens our understanding of the institutional bases of economic growth and development."
    Yoshiko Herrera, University of Wisconsin, Madison

    "Rithmire's work tackles the most important socioeconomic-political phenomenon in contemporary China, urban transformation. She combines careful conceptualization and detailed case studies to explain patterns of urban changes that have impacted the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Through a mix of careful documentary research and in-depth interviews, Rithmire offers convincing and engrossing historical institutional accounts of urban transformation in some of China's most important cities. For any student of contemporary China, this is a must-read."
    Victor Shih, University of California, San Diego

    "As Meg Rithmire shows in this fascinating and remarkably well-researched book, an especially important yet utterly counterintuitive area in the political economy of Chinese development has been the problem of property rights, where, despite the fact that the state officially owns all land, enormous, vital, and innovative markets for its use have grown up all over the country. Rithmire's book lays out the historical peculiarity and broad political and economic significance of landed property governance in China's transformation since the 1980s. Her general argument for the whole of China is then contextually fleshed out with three detailed studies of property politics in the northern cities of Dalian, Harbin, and Changchun. Anyone wanting to understand the dynamics of growth in contemporary China, or, indeed, anyone interested in shaking up their deepest assumptions about what is possible in the development process, will benefit greatly by consulting this rich and informative book."
    Gary Herrigel, University of Chicago

    "… the book is based on superb research, makes excellent use of a wide array of local documentary sources, and is a textbook model of the comparative method. Land Bargains and Chinese Capitalism should be on the reading lists of scholars and graduate students who are interested in urbanizing China's political economy, and especially those focusing on the northeast."
    Sally Sargeson, The China Journal

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107539877
    • length: 234 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.33kg
    • contains: 18 b/w illus. 20 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Property and politics in China
    2. The making of the real estate economy: urban reform and the origins of the party's land dilemma
    3. The political economies of China
    4. 'Land as a state asset': global capital and local state power in Dalian
    5. Property rights and distributive politics: urban conflict and change in Harbin, 1978 to the present
    6. Changchun motor city: the politics of compromise in an industrial town
    7. Conclusions.

  • Author

    Meg E. Rithmire, Harvard Business School
    Meg E. Rithmire earned her PhD in Government from Harvard University in 2011 and immediately joined the faculty of Harvard Business School as an Assistant Professor in the Business, Government, and International Economy Unit, where she primarily teaches political economy. She was a Fulbright scholar in China from 2007–8. She is a member of the American Political Science Association (and the Urban Politics section) and the Association for Asian Studies.

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