The panel focuses on the diffusion of environmental information and sustainable practices in China. Whereas environmental risks have become a key concern for large chunks of the Chinese population, and despite the fact that environmental protection has been put forward as a top priority by the current Chinese leadership, China’s societal green transformation remains in infancy. This panel focuses on the diffusion of information and knowledge that supports this transformation by raising environmental awareness and presenting alternative modes of living and producing in rural and urban areas. This knowledge is seen to originate both from the state and from civil society actors, whether Chinese or foreign, and faces challenges that are both societal and political.
By focusing on citizens and government practices, this panel aims at shedding light on the many initiatives that have emerged and continue to develop in China despite tightened political control. At the same time, however, it explores how contradictory goals, mis-aligned incentives and multifaceted path dependencies still stand in the way of systemic and durable change. The five papers included in this panel are all based on long-term interactions with Chinese civil society actors and extensive fieldwork undertaken in different parts of China’s eastern provinces. Two papers look at the practices that underline the claimed green transformation of the modernization path pursued by the Chinese state in agriculture production (Schwoob) and urbanization (Romano) showing in both cases how contradictory goals and path-dependent structures have hampered the achievement of green goals. The three other papers examine the promises and limits encountered by societal initiatives in the field of citizens science (Goron), green markets (Arantes), and neo-rurality (Salmon) that jump scales across the traditional rural-urban divide and tie sustainability goals to the transformation of deeper structures and societal representations of development and modernity.