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Social mix in central post-reform Shanghai

Wang, R.W.-T.; (2011) Social mix in central post-reform Shanghai. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Social mix can be observed in many post-reform Chinese cities, yet the topic has so far remained scarcely researched. Using central Shanghai as a focus, this research asks how socially mixed neighbourhoods have emerged, what is their internal structure, and how have locally-based social interactions been affected by the emergence of social mix. Based on a neighbourhood of 5 housing estates and other relevant examples, this study shows that mixed neighbourhoods have emerged from an unplanned and uncoordinated interplay among new market-driven commodity housing developments, counter-market retention mechanisms on traditional estates, government-led socially-orientated housing projects, residents’ resistance to redevelopment, and the lingering socialist legacy of welfare housing and unclear property rights. Significant differences were found in residents’ socioeconomic attributes, living conditions, tenure and housing expenditure between the traditional, new middle-income, and new upmarket housing. The process of housing redevelopment and the creation of social mix have diminished locally-based social interactions. Residents’ intra-estate interaction is the strongest in traditional estates, lower in the middle-income estate and minimal in upmarket estates. The level of inter-estate interaction in the mixed neighbourhood is weak. The emergence of social mix has brought about a divergence in lifestyles and lifeworlds among the changed set of residents, which is reflected in the spheres of mobility, residential stability, shopping, and children’s education. The level of inter-estate interaction has reduced from the past when the neighbourhood was more socially homogenous. Findings suggest that social mix and a weakening of local social interaction will likely continue, and these will demand more scrutiny considering China’s development agenda on social harmony. Findings here concur with Western studies on mixed communities that social mix does not lead to social mixing. New policies and programmes to foster social interaction should be explored.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Social mix in central post-reform Shanghai
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School > Bartlett School of Planning

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