This study examines the distinctive organizational mechanisms intended to control disorder in contemporary urban China. The research focuses on the interplay between the operations of the traditional, grass-roots social control organizations in urban China -- the "neighborhood committees" and neighborhood police stations -- and the newly developed market-based services for public safety and security. The analytic model guiding the research integrates key concepts from the Western literature on neighborhood social control with concepts tailored to the unique Chinese context. The researchers will collect original quantitative and qualitative data for a sample of neighborhoods in Tianjin, a city of more than 12 million people situated about 60 miles southeast of Beijing. A survey based on a sample of 2,500 households distributed across 50 neighborhoods will provide the primary quantitative data. The qualitative data will be gathered through focus groups with members of neighborhood committees and face-to-face interviews with the local police officers assigned to the sampled neighborhoods. With these data, the researchers will address the following overarching questions. To what extent do the traditional grass-roots organizations continue to play a key role in securing order and public safety in a changing China? How has the increased availability of market-based services for public safety and personal security altered the operations of these traditional organizations? In what ways do traditional, grass-roots and market-based mechanisms of neighborhood social control vary along with socio-demographic characteristics of neighborhoods?
The results of the research will shed light on important social developments pertaining to disorder in contemporary urban China and will enhance, more generally, knowledge about how different forms of neighborhood social organization and associated social control processes evolve and are adapted to fundamental changes in the larger social landscape.