Research Introduction – Yongmei

A Letter for Potential Interviewees

Dear NGO member based in Southampton,

Local Service Delivery and Policy Network in Comparative Perspective

I am a second-year PhD student based in University of Southampton and now doing my research project on community participation, which uses interviews and observation to collect data.

I am from China and this research is a comparative study in the UK and China. My fieldwork in Southampton is part of a larger programme of the fieldwork.

The aim of this project is to explore how the Chinese and UK governments promote community participation at local level and the outcomes of these initiatives. Furthermore, what are the similarities and differences between Chinese and English practices and why?

Generally, UK is seen as an essentially democratic, supporting community participation. China is considered as an authoritarian state with top-down power control and strict hierarchy system, meaning there is little scope for local participation. However, recent studies in both countries show that they are confront with similar problems with the community organization’s interaction with public sectors and its development. Understanding this basic finding motivated me to conduct this research. Here is a potted research introduction of my research project.

Research Aims

This research in the UK is part of my PhD project, which sets out to explore community participation in England and China between 1997 and 2017. Specifically, this PhD project aims to explore the interaction between local authorities and community organizations by comparing two policy areas in England and China. These case studies will be analysed taking account of their different contexts – political regimes, the development dilemmas of community organizations, the relationship between local authorities and community organizations, and reforms in public service delivery. How can consultation help improve performance of community organization and the quality of public service? Despite the differences in political regimes, China and England have introduced many similar reforms at the local level and encountered similar problems in community governance.

Research Questions

After my literature review on community participation in both countries, I identified several specific comparative questions relevant to my fieldwork in UK. If possible, please think about the questions below according to your working experience in social care or social housing.

  1. In the UK, party politics influences community participation in many ways. However, are shifts in community policy always Councillor’s main consideration? How do you feel about Councillors’ and city council staff’s commitment to community service provision?
  2. How are these policy changes implemented? Do you feel your organization is affected by these policy changes? Have your organization ever make effort to influence any policy changes?
  3. In UK and China, the interaction between government and community organizations provides many opportunities to meet several, varying objectives through community governance. So:
    (i) How do community organizations negotiate with local government? Do you or your colleagues have any experience of working or communicating with councillors or city council staff?
    (ii) How do community organizations establish connections to negotiate and cooperate within the same policy area?
    (iii) What did some politicians and council staff do when working collaboratively with community groups or individually to promote the quality of social care service delivery?
    (iv) Do you have any story about the innovative practices in community social care services?
  4. In your opinion, what are the causes of the development dilemmas of community organization?

I hope that the outcome of this project can offer a better and deeper understanding of the interactions between local government and community organizations in the field of community participation in the UK and China. I believe that the practices in both countries can provide different perspective to view the success and failure in each country and even shed light upon some trends and features in the future.

So when it is convenient for you, will you help me by allowing me to interview you sometime in the near future? If taking part in an interview is not possible, it would be very nice if you can write down your thoughts about the questions listed above and send them back to me via email (Yongmei.Li Please see my short biography following this letter if you are interested.


I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Miss Yongmei Li, PhD candidate

Email: Yongmei.Li

Department of Politics and International Relations

Faculty of Social, Humanity and Mathematical Sciences

University of Southampton

SO17 1BJ


Yongmei Li is second-year PhD student in Politics and International Relations at the University of Southampton. Previously, she studied in China for her Bachelor and Master degree in Public Administration and did some research on community governances and homeowner association in China. She has several publications in Chinese Social Sciences Citation Index source journals and a book review article in English, which was published in Cambridge Journal of China study. After finishing her Master degree, she passed the scholarship selection of China Scholarship Council successfully and got the full funding from CSC to continue her study in Southampton. Currently, she is doing research on community governance and local government. In this phase, she is particularly interested in how the local government deals with community participation issues and its relationship with local community organizations.

For a full CV and more information, please see:



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