State, Enterprise and Town
Over the past few decades, scholars have analysed sprawling third world cities and the growing inequality within them. Observing towns in general, they have noted the decline of community and growing anomie. What is remarkable about China in the 1960s and 1970s was that effective policies were adopted to prevent urban sprawl and inequalities remained small. Measures were taken to create urban communities. Yet, we have noted, the industrialising strategy perpetuated considerable urban bias despite Mao’s injunction to close the urban—rural gap. The nature of urban communities, moreover, left much to be desired. Community feeling certainly developed but so also did coercion. This chapter will consider the questions raised in our Introduction, the most important of which is the extent to which urban anomie might be the price of urban freedom? We question also the Chinese approach to urban community building which often fused together units of production, administration and residence. Did that fusion lead inevitably to major economic problems, particularly in the more market-oriented 1980s? What specific problems arose from considering an enterprise sometimes as an actor on the market, sometimes as a community and sometimes as a bureaucratic outpost?
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