Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

China’s “New Normal”: from Social Control to Social Governance


The Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee set the “modernization of the state governance system and governing capacity” as the overall objective of “comprehensive deepening reform,” which has become an important political aspect of the “New Normal” in Xi Jinping’s era. Since then, the research on the theory and practice of the state governance model, state governance capacity, and social governance has become popular. By defining the concept of governance and investigating social governance model in China, this article analyses the institutional foundation restricting the transition of the social governance model in China, expounds the connotation and development goal of social governance alongside the state governance system modernization, and argues that the new development trend of “social governance” is to make the transition to the self-governing model based on democracy and rule of law, and pluralistic cooperation between state and society. The main function of the government is not to exercise administrative intervention and control over the society, nor to replace societal actions or to take on everything by itself, rather it is to steer, standardize, support, and serve the social self-governance by exercising laws, rules, and regulations, democratic consultation, and social policies. This article suggests that further deepening political restructuring and achieving the transformation of government functions is the necessary condition to foster and promote social governance capacity and to achieve the transformation of the governance model.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.

    Besancon, M. 2006. Good governance rankings: The art of measurement. Boston: World Peace Foundation.

  2. 2.

    Duit, A., and V. Galaz. 2008. Governance and complexity: Emerging issues for governance theory. Governance 21: 311–335.

  3. 3.

    Guo, Sujian. 2008. The self-management model in the residence community of the United States and its enlightenment on China. Modern Property Management, No 1.

  4. 4.

    Hardin, G. 1977. Managing the commons. San Francisco: W. W. Freeman.

  5. 5.

    Hu, Jintao. 2007. Hu Jintao’s report delivered at the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, People’s Publishing House.

  6. 6.

    John, P., and A. Cole. 1999. Political leadership in the new urban governance. Local Government Studies 25: 98–115.

  7. 7.

    Kickert, Walter. 1993. Autopoiesis and the science of (public) administration: Essence, sense, and nonsense. Organization Studies 14: 261–278.

  8. 8.

    Ostrom, E. 1990. Governing the commons: The evolution on institutions of collective action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  9. 9.

    Peters, B.G. 2003. The future of governing: Four emerging models. 2nd ed. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

  10. 10.

    Peters, B.G., J. Pierre, E. Sorenson, and J. Torfing. 2011. Interactive governance: Advancing the paradigm. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  11. 11.

    Rhodes, R.A.W. 1996. The new governance: Governance without government. Political Studies 44: 652–667.

  12. 12.

    Rhodes, R.A.W. 2006. Policy network analysis. In The Oxford handbook of public policy, ed. M. Moran, M. Rein, and R.E. Goodin. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  13. 13.

    Rosenau, J.N., and E.O. Czempiel. 1992. Governance without government: Order and change in world politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  14. 14.

    Rothstein, B., and J. Toerell. 2008. What is the quality of governance: A theory of impartial government institutions. Governance 21: 165–190.

  15. 15.

    Xi, Jinping. 2013. Communique of the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, People’s Publishing House.

  16. 16.

    Yu, Keping. 1999. An introduction to governance and good governance. Marxism & Reality, No. 5.

  17. 17.

    Yu Keping. 2005. Social equity and good governance are the two cornerstones of building a harmonious society. Studies on the Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, No. 1.

  18. 18.

    Yu, Keping. 2009. Governance assessment: China and the world. Beijing: Central Compilation & Translation Press.

  19. 19.

    Yu, Keping. 2012. Democratic governance and political reform in China. Beijing: Central Compilation & Translation Press.

  20. 20.

    Yu Keping. 2014. Promotion of the modernization of state governance system and governance capacity. Qianxian, No. 1.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Tianyu Jiang.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Guo, S., Jiang, T. China’s “New Normal”: from Social Control to Social Governance. J OF CHIN POLIT SCI 22, 327–340 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11366-017-9485-8

Download citation


  • Social control
  • Social governance
  • Social management
  • State governance modernization