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Exceptionalism and theorizing spatial inequality: Segregation research on cities in China


Ren, Julie (2021). Exceptionalism and theorizing spatial inequality: Segregation research on cities in China. Journal of Urban Affairs:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

The transformation of Chinese cities has engendered new forms of spatialized urban inequality. Research on these processes of segregation has captured the attention of urban researchers, generating a large and varied body of work. Yet its influence on urban theory remains constrained, reflecting the concern with the parochialism of urban theory. A review of segregation research on Chinese cities presents several intertwined findings: Chinese cities are framed in terms of their difference, mostly in contrast to Euro-American cities. This framing renders findings intelligible for an audience familiar with Chicago, but perhaps not Shenzhen. In translating the findings, the research often resorts to a methodological nationalism, which contextualizes Chinese cities in terms of their “Chinese-ness,” a reductionist heuristic that elides the diversity of these cities and construes residential segregation as incommensurate with the experience of cities elsewhere. The effect of this is to limit the potential of this research to contribute to a “more global urban studies,” by inscribing a kind of exceptionalism into Chinese cities.

Abstract

The transformation of Chinese cities has engendered new forms of spatialized urban inequality. Research on these processes of segregation has captured the attention of urban researchers, generating a large and varied body of work. Yet its influence on urban theory remains constrained, reflecting the concern with the parochialism of urban theory. A review of segregation research on Chinese cities presents several intertwined findings: Chinese cities are framed in terms of their difference, mostly in contrast to Euro-American cities. This framing renders findings intelligible for an audience familiar with Chicago, but perhaps not Shenzhen. In translating the findings, the research often resorts to a methodological nationalism, which contextualizes Chinese cities in terms of their “Chinese-ness,” a reductionist heuristic that elides the diversity of these cities and construes residential segregation as incommensurate with the experience of cities elsewhere. The effect of this is to limit the potential of this research to contribute to a “more global urban studies,” by inscribing a kind of exceptionalism into Chinese cities.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Social Sciences & Humanities > Urban Studies
Uncontrolled Keywords:Sociology and Political Science, Urban Studies
Language:English
Date:14 June 2021
Deposited On:25 Jun 2021 12:04
Last Modified:26 Jun 2021 20:00
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0735-2166
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/07352166.2021.1921592

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