Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2006, Vol. 61 ›› Issue (2): 199-211.doi: 10.11821/xb200602009

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Sociospatial Differentiation in Transitional Shanghai

LI Zhigang1, WU Fulong2   

  1. 1. Centre of Urban and Regional Studies, Zhongshan University, Guangzhou 510275, China;
    2. School of City and Regional Planning, Cardiff University, UK
  • Received:2005-04-11 Revised:2005-10-14 Online:2006-02-25 Published:2006-02-25
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 40471039


Using the 5th census data on the spatial level of neighborhood committee, the lowest administrative level of urban China, this paper examines sociospatial differentiation in post-reform Shanghai. By applying the traditional method of factorial analysis, six types of social areas are identified: worker villages built before reform, migrant communities, professional complexes, peasant villages, new-worker villages and aged accumulated inner-city. Accordingly, the post-reform sociospatial structure of Shanghai is a model combining the three classic structures: concentric layers, clusters, and multi-nuclei. Our findings suggest that residential district (jiedao) is heterogeneous, thus we argue that the social area should be studied on lower spatial levels. In this sense, we further examine to what extent social space is differentiated. It suggests that neither demographic variables nor socio-economic variables have significant differentiation as those in the West; instead, there is rather a high extent of housing differentiation. The underlying reason is attributed to the institutional forces such as work-unit, i.e. their impact upon housing in history and their impact in the post-reform era. This distinctive mechanism indicates that now the extent of sociospatial differentiation of urban China is still much lower than that of Western cities.

Key words: Shanghai, sociospatial differentiation, extent of differentiation, factorial ecology, indices