Gentrification and Shanghai's new middle-class : Another reflection on the cultural consumption thesis

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-66
Journal / PublicationCities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


The proliferation of the new middle-class and the ongoing gentrification of many Chinese cities calls for another reflection on causes of the latter. The paper presents an effort to unravel the middle-class in Chinese cities in order to probe the role of the professional middle-class in gentrification. Through a survey of randomly selected professional and managerial workers in the service industry, the paper argues that it is plausible to identify this fraction of the professional middle-class as one homogeneous social group who possess cultural competence to decode and appreciate an urbane lifestyle. Given the situation that residential redevelopment in a time of globalization has profoundly reshaped the social order of urban landscapes where gentrified neighborhoods assemble "established elite enclaves", members of the professional middle-class are attracted by the image of elite life and thus willing to pay for the symbolic value of those elite enclaves which they can afford. Approaching from the consumption side, the study reflects upon the role of the new middle-class in the process of gentrification in the Chinese urban context. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Research Area(s)

  • Gentrification, Globalization, Professional middle-class, Shanghai, Urban redevelopment