Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 71 ›› Issue (6): 1010-1024.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201606009

• Urbanization • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The socio-spatial structure of Guangzhou and its evolution

Chunshan ZHOU1,2(), Jincan HU1,2(), Xinmei TONG1,2, Yan BIAN3   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2. Guangdong Key Laboratory for Urbanization and Geo-simulation,Guangzhou 510275, China
    3. School of Business Administration, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China
  • Received:2015-06-10 Revised:2015-11-04 Online:2016-06-30 Published:2016-06-30
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41271182]


Research into urban socio-spatial structure was first introduced to Chinese geographers in 1986. Since the beginning of the free-market economic reform in 1987, Chinese cities have changed rapidly and have attracted substantial attention from academia. Chinese case studies have predominantly concerned megacities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. As the pioneer of China's reform and opening-up, Guangzhou is representative of large Chinese cities in the transformation of the socio-spatial structure. The first research was initiated in the social areas of Guangzhou in 1985. Zhou used data from the fifth population census of 2000 to analyze the social areas of Guangzhou and identified three evolution modes of the socio-spatial structure: the first is based on the development of the old city, the second fouses on the development of the educational or industrial "enclave", and the third presents the development of agricultural areas. The research on the evolution of urban socio-spatial structure, as a vital part of urban geography study, needs a long-term follow-up survey and analysis. Thus, using the Factor Ecological Analysis (FEA), this paper analyzes the social area in Guangzhou with the Sixth National Population Census data of 2010, and further divides the social area into 7 sub-types based on the 7 main factors. Comparing the studies of the 2000s and 1985, we found that: (1) Most of the principal factors are available for the years of 1985-2010, and they have played an increasingly important role during the period studied. In addition, some individual principal factors only appear in a certain year, thus have strong distinct characteristics. (2) The evolution of social areas in Guangzhou has been mainly characterized by type conversion and followed by regional spatial differentiation in 1985-2000; and vice versa in 2000-2010. (3) This study further found evidence of the three evolution modes proposed in 2000 based on the development of the old town, development of enclave of industry and education, and development of the rural community; then it put forward a new model based on the development of the social areas in suburban towns; (4) The market mechanism, administrative mechanism and the family life cycle mechanism work together to the evolution of socio-spatial structure.

Key words: socio-spatial structure, social area, structure evolution, impact mechanism, Guangzhou