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Social Groups and Housing Differentiation in China's Urban Villages: An Institutional Interpretation

He, Shenjing, Liu, Yuting, Wu, Fulong and Webster, Christopher John 2010. Social Groups and Housing Differentiation in China's Urban Villages: An Institutional Interpretation. Housing Studies 25 (5) , pp. 671-691. 10.1080/02673037.2010.483585

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Possessing different land rights and distinct landscapes, and separated from the rest of the city by invisible institutional boundaries, China's urban villages are unusual enclaves for landless farmers, rural migrants and other urban hukou (citizenship rights) holders in a period of rapid urbanization. Although urban villages are well known for their disorder and unruliness, they provide temporary livelihood for indigenous villagers and inexpensive shelter for migrants and other urban residents. Urban villages are typically perceived as homogeneous low-income neighbourhoods characterized by low quality and high density housing. In fact, housing differentiation has emerged in urban villages among residents who possess different quantities and types of capital, rights/entitlements, skills and other assets. This paper aims to understand the social groups and the housing differentiation among them in the Chinese urban villages from an institutional perspective. It is based on a large-scale household survey in 11 urban villages in six Chinese cities. Empirical data show evidence of significant housing differentiation within these enclaves: indigenous villagers have become a petty rentier class; rural migrants pay the highest rents while enduring the lowest housing conditions; and housing conditions for urban hukou holders lie between those of the other two groups. Regression analysis suggests that urban villages share similar dynamics of housing differentiation as wider urban spaces, i.e. the combination of strong institutional constraints and emerging market influences leads to housing differentiation and inequality. Residents in urban villages are also highly mobile. The inflows and outflows of population form an important part of the urban socio-spatial restructuring process.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social groups, housing differentiation, China, urban villages, institution
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 02673037
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2019 09:07

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