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Sustainable rural renewal in China: archetypical patterns

Rongyu Wang, School of Public Affairs, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China; Resource Economics Group, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany; School of Public Affairs, Xiamen University, Xiamen, China
Klaus Eisenack, Resource Economics Group, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
Rong Tan, School of Public Affairs, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China


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Against the backdrop of rural deprivation during the rapid urbanization of China since the end of the previous century, rural renewal has been regarded as a vital strategy for facilitating rural sustainability. Rural renewal in contemporary China involves activities that replan, consolidate, and redevelop the extant and idle rural construction land and then convert such land for alternative uses, including new rural settlement construction and rural industry development. However, given the regionally decentralized authoritarian (RDA) regime of China, i.e., a combination of political centralization and economic regional decentralization, the governance of rural renewal and its performance show great diversity. The objective of this study was to explore and elucidate the underlying patterns of sustainable rural renewal. Thus, from the social-ecological systems (SES) perspective, an archetype analysis was conducted based on primary data from 27 cases from the eastern, central, and western parts of China. In total, eight archetypical patterns were extracted, and the following three overarching implications were observed: (1) a governance system aligning with the attributes of rural land resources, the characteristics of actors, and the properties of interactions is essential for sustainable rural renewal; (2) decentralized or self-organized governance emerges to facilitate sustainable rural renewal; and (3) a long-term perspective of designing and enforcing rural renewal and distinctive land resource endowment contribute to rural sustainability. These findings may benefit China and other regions pursuing rural sustainability.

Key words

archetypes; China; rural renewal; social-ecological systems; sustainability

Copyright © 2019 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087