Spontaneous or Constructed? Neighborhood Governance Reforms in Los Angeles and Shanghai


Bin Chen is an assistant professor in the School of Public Affairs, The City University of New York at Baruch College.

Terry L. Cooper is the Maria B. Crutcher Professor in Citizenship and Democratic Values and director of Civic Engagement Initiative in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development, University of Southern California.

Rong Sun is a professor in the Department of Public Administration, School of Economics and Management of Shanghai Tongji University.


Can grassroots government succeed on its own without state involvement? By comparing approaches in two metropolitan governments—neighborhood councils in Los Angeles and resident committees in Shanghai—Bin Chen of the City University of New York at Baruch College, Terry L. Cooper of the University of Southern California, and Rong Sun of Shanghai Tongji University underscore the need to understand the interrelationships among the political and administrative structures where these specific reforms are implemented. Their analysis points out that the efficacy of a government-initiated civic engagement program depends on a balanced combination of state involvement and community self-organization.