Agency and social construction of space under top-down planning

12th Jul 2017

Agency and social construction of space under top-down planning: Resettled rural residents in China

A new paper by Min Zhang, Weiping Wu and Weijing Zhong is now available online.  This paper is part of a forthcoming Special Issue entitled "People and Plans in Urbanising China".


Resettled rural communities are a product of China’s rapid urbanisation and associated top-down planning. For local governments, relocating farmers from natural villages into new, concentrated residential neighbourhoods serves the dual purpose of implementing national directives on farmland conservation and integrated urban–rural planning. For resettled residents, however, the transition process is fraught with livelihood, social and cultural contest. This paper explores how such residents in a Chinese city, Zhenjiang, exercise agency to reconstruct community and public space in their new neighbourhood. Keeping alive patterns and practice of thoughts acquired during their rural lives, habitus, resettled residents have deployed their new spatial situation in creative ways. Pre-existing social fabric and mutual benefit-sharing provide the foundation for spatial adaptation and transformation, allowing residents to achieve a sense of normalcy or even to recreate village life. Theoretically, our analysis highlights the importance of situating spatial agency within the context of shifting regime of property rights and its effect on the maintenance of habitus.

You can read the full article here

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