Welcome to the club! : An exploratory study of service accessibility in commodity housing estates in Guangzhou, China

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

23 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-394
Number of pages24
Journal / PublicationSocial and Cultural Geography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2017


In post-reform China, gated commodity housing estates play a crucial role in the provision of urban services. Such collective service provision is criticized in the urban studies literature, because ‘club goods’ are thought to exclude people that do not live in gated communities. This paper reflects on the global relevance of that argument with an exploratory study in Guangzhou, China. We argue that access to collective services is structured in local social practices, involving diverse actors and specific rules and resources. Discussions on the exclusionary effects of service provision through gated communities should therefore focus on the characteristics of these practices of access in specific cities. Employing this perspective, the paper shows that in Guangzhou at least two mechanisms partly ease the exclusion of non-residents from club goods. On the one hand, municipal government maintains a considerable role in service management, mediating exclusion from services for people who do not live in commodity housing estates. On the other hand, generally the management of services is separated from housing estate management, and service providers try to increase profits through service provision to non-residents. We discuss the consequences of such mediations for an adjusted research agenda on service provision by gated communities.

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