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Designing to Govern: Space and Power in Two Wuhan Communities

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Urban reconstruction in China over the last decade has resulted in a substantial reconfiguration of spatial structures. New forms of space have emerged in parallel with the rise of new economic, social and cultural formations. In turn, these developments have impacted on how political power is organized in urban China. In particular, two strategic trends reflect this impact: 1. increased government intervention in urban planning and residential design; and 2. the national programme to revamp grassroots governance through community building (shequ jianshe). Concerned with the problem of how to govern an increasingly complex urban environment, China's city authorities have realized that attention to spatial order is a vital component of community governance. Acknowledging the extent to which space and power are mutually constitutive, I explore how new urban residential spaces facilitate particular forms of local community governance. Based on socio-spatial fieldwork undertaken in two residential compounds in Wuhan, this article demonstrates the close inter-connection between urban design and the operation of local power.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-12-07

More about this publication?
  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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