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Suburban Beijing

Suburban Beijing: Housing and Consumption in Contemporary China

Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Suburban Beijing
    Book Description:

    After the expansion and privatization of housing in urban China during the last decade of the twentieth century, ordinary citizens have started to cultivate personal space and have a new incentive to make money. In Suburban Beijing, Friederike Fleischer documents this process, analyzing its underlying forces and its ramifications for redefining the Chinese social landscape.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7509-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION Transforming Suburban Life in China
    (pp. ix-xxxvi)

    Clouds of dust hung in the still August air. A maze of cranes, towering over rows and rows of half-finished apartment complexes, swung ceaselessly back and forth, each like a conductor’s wand over an orchestra. The music, however, was a cacophony of jack-hammering, screeching, drilling, and the monotonous grind of cement mixers, accompanied by the rumble of sand- and gravel-loaded trucks that thundered by on the newly paved, yet unmarked, four-lane road. Sweating under the blistering sun, a group of tanned construction workers, chatting in regional dialects, gathered around a small food stall propped up on the narrow strip of...

  4. 1 A HISTORY OF WANGJING: Building the Suburban Industrial Zone
    (pp. 1-16)

    Today Wangjing’s exclusive residential neighborhoods and shiny new apartment towers can be easily reached via a six-lane highway that connects the suburb with the inner city. Until the 1990s, however, this was the rural hinterland, an agricultural zone interspersed with a few industrial clusters of socialist planning. One such cluster, Jiuxianqiao, lies to the east of Wangjing. It was established in the 1950s as a development zone for electronics factories. With dirt roads and only one bus connection to the urban center, the small conglomeration of factories and residential quarters strewn among farmers’ small houses resembled for many years more...

    (pp. 17-32)

    On the eve of the reforms in the late 1970s, Jiuxianqiao had become the lifeworld for the workers assigned to the factories in the industrial cluster. Most of my older informants lived in the area, either in one of the few available new danwei units or in houses they rented from local farmers in the vicinity. The upheaval of the Cultural Revolution notwithstanding, the geographical, social, and economic center of peoples’ lives was the work unit. Jiuxianqiao residents spent their days between wage labor, political meetings, and taking care of their children and the household. There was little spare time...

  6. 3 DAILY LIFE IN WANGJING: From Exclusive High-Rise to Crumbling Compound
    (pp. 33-68)

    By 2006, Wangjing was a fairly well-established suburb with different housing options ranging from medium-priced to more upscale complexes, increasing numbers of restaurants, cafes, bookstores, and individual shops, and an exclusive shopping mall. The suburb was still changing and expanding, but in the central area the dust of construction had settled, and planted trees and flower beds sprouted roots. Ample roads, numerous buses, and a new subway line (finished just in time for the Olympic Games) connected the suburb with the inner city. At the time of my research in 2001–2, however, the locale was still in the making....

  7. 4 SOCIOECONOMIC DIFFERENCES: Emerging Market Forces, Diverging Values
    (pp. 69-108)

    As we have seen in previous chapters, growing socioeconomic stratifications in present-day urban China are increasingly translated into spatial differentiations: inner cities have turned into high-tech versions of a globally imagined modernity, but suburbs remain zones where old and new, “winners” and “losers” of the reforms, live relatively close by. Shared suburban space does not necessarily mean shared lives, as walled, gated, and safeguarded neighborhoods tend to segregate residents into ever more distinct communities where they live with “people like us.” How should we conceptualize these residential communities? How and why have new neighborhoods and associated lifestyles taken on such...

    (pp. 109-136)

    Residential communities have a formative impact on emerging lifestyles in contemporary urban China. At the same time, housing is the point where the emerging class structuration of society is closely intertwined with consumption: When they buy a house, urbanites also choose the real or perceived lifestyle associated with different residential complexes and locations. Yet the purchase of commercial housing in specific locations also points to another important aspect of consumption: its link to place. Not simply for the obvious reason that we must consume things in place, but in the more important sense that consumption is a place-creating and place-altering...

  9. CONCLUSION Social Stratification, Consumption, and Housing
    (pp. 137-150)

    The city of Beijing is made up of an intricate weaving of different layers and circuits that represent the various players and actors in the continuous production of urban space. These layers consist of the national, municipal, and district governments, politics, city planning, the economic system, the built environment, history, ideology, the international arena, and naturally the people living within these realms. The negotiation between these forces is a complex and dynamic process. Indeed, as I have shown in the previous chapters, young, affluent homeowners, old danwei residents, and migrant market sellers together inhabit, experience, and thus produce the suburban...

    (pp. 151-152)
  11. Appendix A. Field Sites and Methods
    (pp. 155-157)
  12. Appendix B. Beijing Households and Population, Registered Statistics in 2000
    (pp. 158-158)
  13. Appendix C. Annual Cash Income per Capita of 1,000 Beijing Urban Households in 2000
    (pp. 159-159)
  14. Appendix D. Sample Living Conditions of Fifteen Interviewees in the Hong Yuan Compound
    (pp. 160-162)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 163-188)
    (pp. 189-206)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 207-219)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 220-220)