Frontier City: Place, belonging and community in contemporary Shenzhen

Project: Research

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This research proposal is concerned with the experience and impact of rapid urbanisation in China. It is concerned with processes of migration to, and adaptation in, cities and with the everyday life of the urban residents of these fast changing places. How do people feel about city life in contemporary China? To what extent do they have a strong sense of belonging, community or neighbourhood? Is the city experienced as a place of unity or division, integration or segregation? Are people concerned about these issues-do they matter and in what ways? What do the attitudes and practices of residents indicate about policy development with regard to governance and social participation? Rural-urban migration and urban social cohesion have always been important research issues for social scientists. Until recently, however, much of the academic research in this field had a strong western focus. This research aims to make an important contribution to the expanding urban studies literature on Chinese urbanism and urbanization and to inform wider policy and popular interest about what is happening in Chinese cities. The research will focus on Shenzhen. Its particularly rapid emergence as a new, major city makes it a highly appropriate site for this investigation. It has also been at the forefront of policy and political experimentation and was the first and most important Special Economic Zone. There has also been surprisingly little research on the city when compared to Guangzhou, Shanghai or Beijing. The research will involve a mixed methodology of secondary data analysis, social survey, focus group and in depth interviews. Face to face interviews with 1000 Shenzhen residents will form the empirical core of the study.


Project number9042293
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/165/07/17

    Research areas

  • Belonging,place identity,neighbourhood,urbanism,