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From Suburbia to Post-Suburbia in China? Aspects of the Transformation of the Beijing and Shanghai Global City Regions

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Recent urban theory stresses the wide-ranging implications of post-modern processes of urbanization for the study of what we traditionally have understood as cities and their suburbs. One result has been a burgeoning of terms such as edge city, edgeless city, technoburb, exopolis which have been used to depict patterns and processes of what more generically may be regarded as post-suburbanization. Definitions in much of this literature are actually quite vague or else strongly imbued with their predominantly United States origin. In this paper we propose a composite definition of post-suburbia. Such a definition is culled from the extant literature and is not without its problems. Nevertheless, such a composite definition is a necessary first step to a critical discussion of whether and in what way post-suburbanization may be a feature of China's city regions. Here we draw on two case studies of rapidly developing settlements within the Beijing and Shanghai metropolitan areas. In conclusion we suggest that, while China has yet to enter a post-suburban era, some individual new settlements, such as those discussed here, can be considered as Chinese variants on some elements of post-suburbanization.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 7, 2008

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  • 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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