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Urban Studies Research
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 639312, 10 pages
Research Article

Approaching Neighborhood Democracy from a Longitudinal Perspective: An Eighteen-Year Case Study of a Homeowner Association in Beijing

Department of Resource Management and Geography, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia

Received 14 November 2012; Accepted 22 December 2012

Academic Editor: Nurit Alfasi

Copyright © 2013 Kevin Lo. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Neighborhood democracy was introduced into urban China in the early 1990s as a way to manage the social conflicts associated with the housing reform. Based on a case study of Dragon Villas, Beijing, this paper explores the causes, processes, and consequences of neighborhood democracy at the microlevel from a longitudinal perspective. Three insights are particularly noteworthy. First, the decrease in rental revenue and occupancy rate and the arrival of Chinese owner-occupiers contributed to the emergence of neighborhood democracy in Dragon Villas. Second, the establishment of a homeowner association, far from ending in the conclusion of neighborhood democratization, was only a first step. Furthermore, conflicts between the developer and the homeowners, and among homeowners, played a crucial role in lengthening the process of neighborhood democratization. Third, democratic self-governance resulted in improved governance, a more diverse built form that articulates individuation through consumption, and changes that reflect the importance of privacy and exclusivity.