From simple communities to complex neighbourhoods: an analysis of change in urban and rural communities in Ningbo, China.

Zhang, G
(2016) From simple communities to complex neighbourhoods: an analysis of change in urban and rural communities in Ningbo, China. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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During the past three decades, China has experienced tremendous changes in urbanization, from 18% in 1980 to 52% in 2014, resulting in a net increase of over 400 million in the urban population (Zhejiang Statistical Bureau, 2015). In this transition process, China’s cities have also been undergoing a series of difficulties and challenges, including the declining downtown, environment deterioration, social imbalance, urban poverty, housing shortage, social stratification, land shortage and an aging society. Changes at the community level can be seen as the response to urban and rural social and institutional changes. This is because the residential community is not only the focus of daily life and social activities, but also produces profound and comprehensive interaction with city re-structuring and growth (See Chapter one and two). As a result, studies of the detailed characteristics of urban changes at community-level have become the crucial perspective for understanding the internal logic of urban changes, whether they be social, economic or administrative. Therefore, the research aim is "To analyse the characteristics of socio-economic changes at the neighbourhood level in Ningbo from the 1980s to the 2010s, to clarify the mechanisms of neighborhood changes in transitional China for supporting better development". The thesis draws upon an evidence base comprising personal observation, completed questionnaires from 156 residents (locals, students and migrants), and interviews of 120 local residents, migrants, members of Community Committee and Village Committee, civil servants and researchers, together with evidence drawn from Ningbo Yearbook, the 2010 census, and statistical data from Ningbo Statistical Bureau. Based on the appraisal framework designed by means of a literature review of sustainable development and community studies, from the perspective of local residents and migrant workers, it analysed the characteristics of social, economic and administrative changes at the neighbourhood level from three cases of the downtown, urban fringe and suburb of Ningbo from the 1980s to the 2010s. The final part of this research summarized the general characteristics of communities and neighbourhood changes in transitional China, and discussed the mechanisms of the changes from the perspective of institutional changes and urbanization, as well as the motivations of migrants’ social mobility. The research found that the market mechanisms and power involved in social and economic changes are the main causes of community and neighbourhood change in transitional China. However, this does not mean governments totally withdrawing from the process, but their role has changed from the “manipulation of power” to being the “mediation of the stakeholders’ conflicts” and “encouraging participation”. Therefore, it can be called the “dual-track approach”, with everything happening gradually as part of a process of reform, initiated and directed by the state.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2016 15:40
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 07:24
DOI: 10.17638/03004808
  • Green, N
  • Sykes, O
  • Batey, P