Community building in old urban neighbourhoods

International Social Science Journal (Chinese Edition)

No.2, 2019


Community building in old urban neighbourhoods (Abstract)


Shen Yuan


Based on the empirical facts from field works, the article revisits the concept of community and defines it as human settlement in certain territory. Residents, relational network, space and tradition, are identified as four key elements in definition of community. In light of this, it classifies the communities in the Beijing Municipality into five categories: work-unit-system, commercial residential building estate, old block, downtown-village, city-periphery-village and rural. Based on the experiences of the sociologist teams of Tsinghua University for community building in the Dashilar area, the author analyzes the effects of the three key approaches – nurturing voluntary organizations in communities, adjustments to courtyard spaces, and rejuvenation of local community culture – on “activation” of communities.

The impact of globalisation, the perception of the world as a global village, is discernible in the rapid spread of ideologies, the regionalisation of violent conflicts and inter-state hostilities, the proliferation and availability of light weapons, and the illicit trade of minerals that helps finance armed groups, militias and proxies of foreign powers staging military campaigns against established governments. It is within this changing environment that children are recruited and used as soldiers. Despite a major threat posed by globalisation to children’s security, this article argues that international efforts have emerged to provide an ongoing response to the deviant use of child soldiers. This is based on both international jurisprudence pertaining to children’s rights, and advocacy by transnational non-governmental organisations to stop all recruitment, exploitation and use of children in hostilities. The kadogo children associated with armed groups and forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo are used as a case study that depicts both the challenges and opportunities of globalisation for the contemporary child soldiering phenomenon.