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Suburban Beijing

Housing and Consumption in Contemporary China

2010
Author:

Friederike Fleischer

Suburban Beijing

Understanding the effects of market liberalization through life in a modern Chinese suburb

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.

Suburban Beijing offers a timely, vivid, and fresh account and a thoughtful analysis of urban housing in China. Friederike Fleischer, a perceptive and careful researcher, draws on firsthand observations, with informative reviews of literature, history, and geography, skillfully weaving a contemporary portrait in both history and location.

Feng Wang, author of Boundaries and Categories: Rising Inequality in Post-Socialist Urban China

In the last decade of the twentieth century, one of the most fundamental changes in urban China has been the expansion and privatization of housing, with per capita housing space increasing by more than 50 percent. As a result, ordinary citizens in urban China have started to cultivate personal space and have a new incentive to make more money, and wealth is being stratified.

Suburban Beijing documents this process, analyzing its underlying forces and its ramifications for redefining the Chinese social landscape. Friederike Fleischer depicts the way Chinese residents in Wangjing, a Beijing suburb, have been affected by the recent transformation in their housing, showing how the suburb developed from its antecedents as a Maoist industrial production zone to its present status as China’s first middle-class residential area.

The new suburban middle class lives side by side with retired workers and with rural-to-urban migrants. Fleischer describes how all three groups share the same neighborhood, highlighting both the similarities and the growing differences among these groups of suburban residents in a rapidly evolving China.

Suburban Beijing

Friederike Fleischer is assistant professor of anthropology at the Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia, and an associate at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Germany.

Suburban Beijing

Suburban Beijing offers a timely, vivid, and fresh account and a thoughtful analysis of urban housing in China. Friederike Fleischer, a perceptive and careful researcher, draws on firsthand observations, with informative reviews of literature, history, and geography, skillfully weaving a contemporary portrait in both history and location.

Feng Wang, author of Boundaries and Categories: Rising Inequality in Post-Socialist Urban China

In this study of the emerging landscape of suburban Beijing, the author admirably provided a detailed account of the housing situation of Beijing’s residents in the newly developed areas that were mostly occupied by farmers less than two decades ago.

Pacific Affairs

The detailed and concrete materials gathered by Fleischer during her indepth fieldwork help the reader to comprehend complex suburban development in China. The book is a useful and important addition to the literature of on urban and “suburban” studies.

The China Review

In all, this book is most certainly well written, researched and beautifully organized.

Anthropology Review Database

Suburban Beijing

Contents

Introduction: Transforming Suburban Life in China
1. A History of Wangjing: Building the Suburban Industrial Zone
2. Reforming the State Sector, Opening the Private Sector: Changing the Suburban Experience
3. Daily Life in Wangjing: From Exclusive Highrise to Crumbling Compound
4. Socio-economic Differences: Emerging Market Forces, Diverging Values
5. Consumption and the Geography of Space and Social Status
Conclusion: Social Stratification, Consumption, and Housing

Acknowledgments
Appendix A: Field Sites and Methods
Appendix B: Beijing Households and Population Year 2000
Appendix C: 2000 Annual Cash Income Per Capita of 1000 Beijing Urban Households
Appendix D: Sample Living Conditions of 15 Interviewees in the Hong Yuan Compound
Notes
Bibliography
Index