Urban development and the search for civil society in China: a view from Quanzhou: Michael Leaf
In its most basic sense, a city is a collection of people. As such, it is intrinsically an important locus for the provision of collective goods and for the organisation of collective consumption. The city historically is a centre for the provision of a broad number of classic collective goods. The production of physical infrastructure, education, healthcare and other forms of social welfare are integral aspects of urban life in many cultures. The social contract of urban life requires participation in the production of those collective goods by the urban dweller, either indirectly through their payment of taxes and fees for state-provided collective goods, or through their direct personal involvement in non-state associations and voluntary activities. The meaning of the term ‘collective good’ that I will emphasise here is broader, however – that is, that urban space itself is a collective good.