Land titling as a conflict remedy or driver? Analyzing institutional outcomes through latent and manifest conflicts in China's forest sector

Kees Krul, Peter Ho, Xiuyun Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Land titling programs are introduced to create a stable and secure institutional environment that effectively resolves land conflicts. However, the process of land registration may also exacerbate latent conflicts or trigger new contestation, causing the opposite of what was intended – a largely conflict-ridden and non-credible tenure arrangement. To understand this apparent contradiction in more detail, this study combines theoretical advances on institutional credibility and conflict manifestation. We employ our approach in China's forest sector, and explore how recent titling experiences affected manifest (visible) and latent (imperceptible) conflicts, represented by a judicial and empirical dataset, respectively. The judicial dataset of court adjudications shows that the majority of manifest conflicts only started after the titling process had been completed, and that nearly half of disputed titles were revoked in court. A household survey in southwest China indicates that latent tenure conflicts were largely unaffected and unresolved by titling. Both analyses suggest that in many instances, the new titles were no remedy or direct driver to tenure disputes but instead have evolved as new indirect drivers to conflict in China's already ambiguous tenure arrangement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104880
JournalLand Use Policy
Volume100
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Conflict manifestation
  • Credibility
  • Forest tenure
  • Land titling
  • Rural China

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