Moving towards Neoliberal(izing) Urban Space? Housing and Residential Segregation in Beijing
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This dissertation examines China's urban housing system in the reform era and its social and spatial changes in Beijing. This dissertation seeks to understand the nature of China's reform and its socio-spatial ramifications, and challenges the convergence thesis that China's reform is necessarily following the footsteps of those advanced capitalist cities. Using Beijing as a case, this dissertation examines the relationship between the state, society and the urban development. This dissertation particularly focuses on housing inequality and residential segregation in Beijing metropolitan area in the reform era. Examining of the behavior of state in urban housing system reveals that the different goals of Beijing municipal government and the central government explain the different fates of different types of housing in the new urban housing system of Beijing. Instead of retreating from the market as neoliberalism thesis suggests, the municipal government of Beijing was actively involved in the housing system and took advantage of hukou, a socialist institution to achieve its goal of "accumulation through dispossession" at the expenses of ordinary citizens. Based on the analysis of various urban groups' housing behavior, this dissertation shows that although being self-reliant for one's own housing became the hegemonic discourse during the reform, this subjugation only applies to some of the urban residents, such as migrant workers who were institutionally excluded from any urban welfare. In contrast, residents who have political power or guanxi are "exceptions to neoliberalism". Based on Beijing metropolitan area boundary delineated by Chan and Forstall and data from 2000 population census of Beijing, this dissertation reveals that employees working in "monopoly" sectors and governmental organizations consistently had better housing than their counterparts in the private sector. Hukou remains a powerful institution in determining Beijing residents' access to housing. In addition, based on all examination of spatial distribution and residential segregation of various social groups, this dissertation shows that not only did the disadvantageous groups mostly concentrated in the outer suburbs have poor living conditions, but also they had high level of segregation there. The institutionally created housing inequality is not only social and economic, but spatial as well. Overall, this dissertation argues that China is not neoliberal in nature. The examination of the state, the urban residents and the social space in terms of the new housing system shows that neoliberalism has not been a dominant ideology in Chinese society. Neoliberalism as policy-based practices is not implemented by either the central government or local government. Neoliberalism as geovernmentality is not applied to those without any political power and outside the public sector.
- Geography