So far, we have seen that there is a striking difference between the organization of the shequ and the narratives by which they are justified and propagated. The former is characterized by a strong Party role, little operational autonomy, the delegation of government tasks, and lack of financial means; while the latter lays great emphasis on autonomous participation, communal self-administration, and the emergence of ‘a Chinese citizen’. How does this gap play out in practice? We first focus on three related types of institution and process that are important for self-governance. As elections are at the heart of autonomous self-governance, the following section will examine how electoral delegates and candidates for Residents’ Committee (RC) elections are chosen. In addition, the selection of building and group leaders, nominally also subject to popular elections, will be analysed. Finding that the requirements for becoming a RC member are rather high, we take a brief look at the social structure of the RC members that do get chosen. The acceptance and taking up of social responsibility is the subject of the second section. Of particular interest is the role of Party organizations in stimulating and participating in voluntary activities. The importance for successful shequ governance of informal institutions, for instance, in utilizing social capital, and the formation of governance networks is highlighted in the third section. The three sections will make clear that the institutional core of shequ governance in China is not the equal, democratic, and voluntary participation of enlightened urban citizens, but the strong role of the Party in selecting local leaders and mobilizing participation among its own members, as well as the capacity to build and access informal networks. Case studies on two of the most important policy fields: birth control and public security, serve to underline these findings.