Gating Urban Spaces in China: Inclusion, Exclusion and Government

Luigi Tomba

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Large-sized, high-rise, privately managed gated residential developments have become a dominant feature of the built environment in China’s growing metropolis during the last 15 years. After a substantial overhaul of the socialist system of housing distribution, gated residential communities marketed to different social groups and featuring different lifestyle options have rapidly replaced traditional residential compounds and led to a massive privatization of the housing stocks. This transition has been interpreted either, on the one hand, as a sign of the impact of global trends of modernity, with developments reproducing Western lifestyles as signifiers of forms of first-world modernity mimicked by the elites of the developing world (Webster et al, 2002; Giroir, 2006); or, on the other, as the result of the reproduction of cultural, social and political traditions of gated spaces visible along the history of China’s urbanization (Bray, 2005). If the former interpretation emphasizes the subjugation of China’s cities and its citizens to the homogenizing effects of marketization, social stratification and globalization, the latter seems to argue the opposite: that gated spaces are quintessentially an evolution of traditionally Chinese spatial patterns. To use Bray’s (2005, p17) words, ‘the walled compound as a technology of spatial demarcation transcends any simple historical divide between “traditional” and “modern” China’.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationGated Communities Social Sustainability in Contemporary and Historical Gated Developments
    Editors Samer Bagaeen and Ola Uduku
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherEarthscan Publications Ltd
    ISBN (Print)9781844075195
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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