Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2003, Vol. 58 ›› Issue (6): 917-926.doi: 10.11821/xb200306015

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Study on Urban Social Areas in Beijing

GU Chaolin1, Fahui WANG2, LIU Guili3   

  1. 1. Department of Urban and Resource Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China;
    2. Department of Geography, Northern Illinois University, U.S.A.;
    3. Regional Institute, Chinese Academy of Urban Planning and Design, Beijing 100038, China
  • Received:2003-06-20 Revised:2003-08-26 Online:2003-11-25 Published:2010-09-09
  • Supported by:

    National Outstanding Youth Foundation of China, No. 40025102; Natural Natural Science Foundation of China, No.49831031


The urban reforms in China in 1984 introduced an urban land market and a housing market to Chinese cities and had profound impacts on urban structures. Using data from a 1998 survey and other sources in Beijing at the subdistrict level, this research found that differentiations of social areas were taking place in Beijing. Unlike western cities with the socioeconomic status and the family status as dominant forces in forming social areas, Beijing just began to experience the impact of differentiation of socioeconomic status, and the family structure factor was ineffective in Beijing due to decades of family planning. Factor analysis revealed four factors that underlay the social spatial structure in Beijing: (1) land use intensity as the dominant factor displaying a concentric zonal pattern; (2) neighborhood dynamics, mainly composed of the floating population ratio, featuring a sectoral pattern; (3) socioeconomic status exhibiting a combination of sectoral and zonal patterns, and (4) ethnicity resembling a multiple nuclei pattern. Superimposing the four factors generated a complex urban mosaic in Beijing.

Key words: social area analysis, zonal and sectoral patterns, Beijing