Abstracting the City: Urbanization and the “Opening-Up” Process in China

  • Ian Morley


Urbanization has historically shown itself to be both an effect and also a cause of societal changes initially instigated by the onset of industrialization. So closely allied is urban growth with industrialization, and so significant are they in terms of how a society perceives itself, that they collectively in effect act as an age marker, that is they are culturally defining processes that mark a society’s advancement from the traditional to the modern. In such a light therefore urbanization is integral to the acuity a society has of itself and its influence can be reinforced through moral imperatives and political strategies so as to, for instance, deal with age old problems connected to impoverished rural locales. In this chapter, a detailed examination of the urban perspective of China’s modern development is given, in doing so offering a means to appraise not only China’s shifting state-society relationship since circa 1980 as part of what is commonly known as China’s “opening up,” but moreover to appreciate how the evolving economic and political approach in China since the economic reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping have manifest themselves into a changing urban landscape. By investigating the Chinese economic determinism to progress, the work shall elucidate the significance of the modern global city concept to Chinese society, a notion that has led in recent decades to an aggressively modern institutionalizing of the market economy, a reorganization of goods and services through local, regional, national, and international markets, a restructuring of everyday life through consumption, and new urban scales and proportions.


Urban Growth Urban Space Chinese City Urban Core Gated Community 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Reza Hasmath and Jennifer Hsu 2009

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  • Ian Morley

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