Shifts along the decommodification - Commodification continuum : Housing delivery and state accumulation in Hong Kong

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2471-2488
Journal / PublicationUrban Studies
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005


This paper engages with the discourse about commodification of housing in an Asian context and presents a methodology to explore shifts in the delivery of housing along the decommodification-commodification continuum. It reviews the extent to which the Hong Kong state has articulated an understanding of a continuum through its actions in the public and private housing sectors, and how it has acted developmentally in manipulating shifts along the continuum. It is found that, although Hong Kong had a large squatter population, the state controlled the commodification of squatter housing and also implemented an enormously successful and publically lucrative assisted home-ownership scheme, whose success in large part is explained by state management of the commodified nature of this tenure. The paper also reviews how the state's control of decommodified land through state ownership and leasehold alienation, and commodified housing in the private sector, led to the generation of large revenues to fund developmentalist activities. In all, unlike many other examples, the benefits of commodified housing in Hong Kong seem to have flowed in large measure from the private sector to the public sector; from this perspective, the paper offers another insight into the oft-neglected public management aspects of Hong Kong as a development case study. © 2005 The Editors of Urban Studies.