Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 72 ›› Issue (8): 1408-1418.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201708006

• Industrial Development • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Actor network theory and commodification in rural space: A case study of Mayufang village in Beijing

Pengfei WANG1(), Ruifan WANG2   

  1. 1. College of Resource Environment and Tourism, Capital Normal University, Beijing 100048, China
    2. Beijing Guangqumen Middle School, Beijing 100062, China
  • Received:2016-12-22 Revised:2017-03-20 Online:2017-08-20 Published:2017-08-20
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41271188


Along with the development of facility agriculture, horticultural agriculture and leisure agriculture, nowadays, the functions of agricultural production in rural areas have been weakened but the functions of consumption have been increased in Beijing. This shows that the commodification of rural space in Beijing has been developed in recent years. Rural tourism, as one of the important forms of the commodification of rural space, has played an important role in increasing farmers' income, preventing rural decline and revitalizing rural economy. Therefore, this paper selects rural tourism as the representative of the commodification to examine the formation and evolution of spatial commodification of rural space in Mayufang village as well as to explore farmers' participation in this process based on the actor network theory. In the process of the transformation, the rural areas being the farmers' producing and living spaces have changed to the urban residents' leisure and consumption spaces in Mayufang village and formed a heterogeneous actor-network, in which Tourism Bureau of Changping District and Changling Travel Company and other human actors and non-human actors have played a focal role. Major actors used the policy and the financial support to enroll farmers and other actors by the top-down executive network. Along with development of promotion, training, supervision and infrastructure, some local farmers started to create the physical and non-physical environments for the urban residents' consumption activities. Thus more and more farmers have been engaged in rural tourism, and the commodification of rural spaces in Mayufang village has been developed. As Mayufang village became the consumption space to the urban residents, the commodification of rural space in Mayufang village started its transformation of actor network. However, with the quit of non-human actors, which is Duijiuyu Natural Beauty and reduction of incentives launched by the original major actors, the representative of market has become the focal actor in the new actor network. More and more farmers, who were against the common purpose of the actor network were excluded, quitted the former actor network, thus commodification in rural space in Mayufang village declined. In the process of the formation of commodification of rural space in Mayufang village, the farmers who had the advantages of location, age and profession have much stronger desire to be involved in rural tourism, unemployed farmers prefer to be involved in rural tourism than farmers who make a living on agriculture. The farmers who worked in township enterprises are more willing to participate in rural tourism than self-employed business persons; villagers employed in the government units have less possibility to take part in rural tourism. While commodification of rural space in Mayufang village has declined, farmers began to transfer the labor force to other professions from rural tourism. When interests of major actors are commonly and inextricably linked with actors in actor network in rural areas, its commodification in rural space is strengthened, and vice versa.

Key words: rural tourism, actor-network theory, commodification in rural space, Mayufang village in Beijing