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CORDIS

Governing with Data: Local Experimentation in Authoritarian China

Project description

Digital governance in authoritarian China

Smart cities are a rising trend worldwide. More than half of the world’s 1 000 smart cities are located in China. Since China is an authoritarian state, the emergence of cities whose governments are beginning to experiment with digital technologies is of particular interest for the study of digital governance in authoritarian societies. The EU-funded DigitalGovernance project will study and understand digitalising governance practices in authoritarian China and the interaction between the government, businesses and citizens in smart cities' local decision-making. It will use a political economy framework and policy cycle analysis to study local digital governance forms, explore the mechanisms of digital technology integration into local decision-making and assess its impacts on citizens, businesses and the state.

Objective

As new information technologies and the advent of “big data” are reshaping societies around the globe, inquiries into the nature and varieties of digital governance and their consequences become increasingly urgent. “Smart cities” are mushrooming particularly quickly in China, which is home to more than half of the more than 1,000 smart cities worldwide. These city governments have begun to experiment with digital technologies to harness the power of big data analytics for governing society. Emerging practices have momentous implications for the organisation of social, political and economic life in China and globally. A systematic study has yet to address the lacking empirical and conceptual understanding of digitalising governance practices in authoritarian China.

The project seizes a unique opportunity to witness “natural experiments” of digital government modes as they emerge from China’s advanced smart cities. A political economy framework and policy cycle analysis will be used to study the interplay between government, businesses and citizens in local decision-making as digital technologies are increasingly integrated into the process. Through mixed-method, the project will achieve three objectives:

1. Study the variation in local digital governance modes and understand why these modes evolved in different ways.
2. Explore the mechanisms through which digital technologies are integrated into local decision-making processes and governance structures.
3. Assess the impacts of new digital governance modes for citizens, businesses and the state.

Findings will generate new empirical data, on the basis of which it will be possible to push the conceptualisation of emerging digital governance modes and the assessment of their benefits and risks. The project will significantly add to the field of digital governance in authoritarian states and will contribute to debates reaching beyond the China context about societal change under advancing digitalisation.

Host institution

FREIE UNIVERSITAET BERLIN
Net EU contribution
€ 1 499 160,00
Address
KAISERSWERTHER STRASSE 16-18
14195 Berlin
Germany

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Region
Berlin Berlin Berlin
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 1 499 160,00

Beneficiaries (1)