Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 69 ›› Issue (8): 1117-1129.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201408008

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Progress of urban geography research in China since the 1980s

Desheng XUE, Li WANG   

  1. Center for Urban and Regional Studies, Sun Yat-sen Unviersity, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Received:2014-06-10 Revised:2014-08-02 Online:2014-08-20 Published:2014-08-20


Built on a database composed of major books and journals published in mainland China, this study examines and summarizes the development of urban geography in post-reform China for the last decades. It applies the methods of literature quantitative analysis to interrogate the modality of recent urban geography and its studies within China's mainland. The findings include: first, along with China's miracle economic growth the community of urban geography also sees a remarkable prosperity in the last years. In particular, the topics and contents of this field witness a sustained expansion and evolvement. Moreover, its research methods are becoming more and more scientific and standardized, while the scale of these studies is turning from macroscopic to microscopic level. Along with a remarkable increase of both topics and interdisciplinary approaches, the perspectives of urban geography studies turn to be even diversified. It is found that state policy and hot-spot topics have significant impacts upon the development or direction of urban geography research. In addition, the impacts of Western theory or schools upon the research in China's mainland are also prominent. We argue that the emphasis of both theoretical studies and their applications is a key feature of post-reform China's urban geography research, among which urbanization and urban system are two key directions. After a comparative analysis of our case with recent development of urban geography in the West and other contexts such as South Africa or Brazil, say the global south, we suggest that the future study of Chinese cities should further expand a global perspective, critically import western theories, explore new theories as well as interdisciplinary approaches, and further follow the academic standard of international communities.

Key words: urban geography, literature quantitative analysis, globalization, urbanization, urban system