Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2012, Vol. 67 ›› Issue (8): 1044-1056.doi: 10.11821/xb201208004

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Spatial-temporal Evolution of Rural Gentrification amidst Rapid Urbanization: A Case Study of Xiaozhou Village, Guangzhou

HE Shenjing1, QIAN Junxi2, XU Yuxuan1, LIU Bin3   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Planning, and Guangdong Key Laboratory for Urbanization and Geo-simulation, Sun Yat-Sen University; State Key Laboratory of Subtropical Building Science, Guangzhou China, Guangzhou 510275, China;
    2. Human Geography Research Group, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9XP, Scotland, UK;
    3. South China Sea Marine Engineering Survey and Environment Research Institute, State Ocean Administration, Guangzhou 510300, China
  • Received:2011-11-28 Revised:2012-03-16 Online:2012-08-20 Published:2012-08-20
  • Supported by:
    National Social Sciences Foundation Key Project, No.11&ZD154; National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40801061; No.41130747; No.41171140; The Fundamental Research Funds for Central Universities, No.370003162001; Sun Yat-Sen University 985 Project

Abstract: Rural gentrification refers to a process in which urban dwellers migrate to rural areas, in a pursuit of consuming the unique cultural ambience and a proximity to nature, with a certain degree of economic capital. It can be explained as the cause of multiple processes in the restructuring of local demographic structure and landscape changing. With special reference to the process of rural gentrification in Xiaozhou Village, Guangzhou, this paper explores the temporal-spatial characteristics of this process, as well as its evolvement alongside the changes in local socio-economic conditions. This paper reveals that there are two main processes in Xiaozhou's socio-spatial transformation, namely gentrification led by avant-garde artists and studentification led by incoming students. Owing to their different spatial demands, rental affordability, and magnitude, these two gentrification processes bring about different physical, cultural, social and economic influences to the local community. Yet, these two processes are tightly connected, and their socio-spatial evolvement experiences different stages of continuation, overlay, and displacement. While the avant-garde artists highlight the aesthetic values of the old architecture in the village, partially as a way to consume the symbolic meanings of rural space and rural landscape, the process of studentification places much more emphasis upon the use of newly built residential spaces and the development of housing spaces. In general, rural gentrification mitigates the economic predicament faced by Xiaozhou Village in a post-productivist era, and does not result in the displacement of indigenous villagers. However, the avant-garde artists are now facing displacement caused by rising housing costs due to the inflow of students. It is worth noting that, indigenous villagers are not the victims of rural gentrification, but become the promoters for the gentrification process through actively engaging in rent-seeking activities. This research also shows that, the differences of rural gentrification between China and Western countries mainly lie in four aspects, namely economic and physical impacts, the relationship between gentrification and urbanization, residential displacement, and driving forces of gentrification. These incongruences result from different socioeconomic background and dynamics of rural gentrification, as well as different land ownership and policies. Overall, this research is of theoretical and realistic significance in terms of examining the characteristics and dynamics of China's rural gentrification, and the unique development trajectory of China's rural community in an era of market transition.

Key words: rural gentrification, spatial-temporal evolution, advent-guard artists, art students, post-productivist era, rent-seeking