First Advisor

Carl Abbott

Date of Publication

Fall 11-18-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies




Housing -- Resident satisfaction -- China -- Beijing, Urban renewal -- Social aspects -- China -- Beijing, Urban renewal -- China -- Beijing -- Citizen participation, Urban renewal -- Government policy -- China -- Beijing



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 193 pages)


The study examines the influences of the Qianmen urban renewal project on its original residents, which is one of a few demonstration projects under the new policy orientation of urban renewal practices in Beijing, China, entering the new century. It employs "residential satisfaction" as an evaluative indicator to understand the residents' experiences before and after urban renewal. Seventy-two residents were interviewed. Among them, 25 remained in Qianmen; 20 relocated to Hongshan, a neighborhood in the central city area; 21 moved to Longyue, a neighborhood in one of the suburban areas; and 6 residents relocated to other locations.

The study found that the participants' level of residential satisfaction was skewed toward dissatisfaction before the urban renewal, whereas participants showed a much higher satisfaction level after the urban renewal, which means that overall the Qianmen urban renewal project had positive impacts on the residents' residential environment. However, among the three neighborhoods, there are no statistically significant differences. The policy arrangements of the Qianmen urban renewal project contribute to the results. Under the new policy orientation, the policy arrangements of the Qianmen urban renewal project featured a government-led approach with a large amount of public investment, which formed a good basis to provide better compensation to the residents, in particular to provide extra aid to low income residents. Therefore, the residents got their housing conditions improved to a large extent contributing to their higher level of residential satisfaction after the project was implemented. Because of the extra aid, the low income residents were even more satisfied than the middle-high income residents. On the other hand, the policy arrangements took into account the opinions of the original residents, in other words, most residents made their own decision about where to live after the urban renewal. In this circumstance, they actually saw the urban renewal as an opportunity to improve their residential environment, in spite of the fact that the urban renewal project was initiated by the municipal government. Therefore residents stayed or relocated voluntarily, which significantly predicts the resulting higher level of residential satisfaction. The findings in the Qianmen case remind us that we do need a more open, balanced perspective for analysis of urban renewal processes and outcomes, rather than a predominantly negative displacement view embedded in a gentrification discourse; and that policy arrangements toward more redistribution and social equity are more likely to achieve positive outcomes for disadvantaged people.

However, the improvements in unit size and housing quality are the main achievements of the urban renewal. Many residents still face the shortage of community facilities in the short run, and in the long run they might continue to suffer from poorer accessibility to public facilities and other resources. Furthermore, the urban renewal inevitably caused social disturbances for many residents, in particular for disadvantaged people (low income residents, and the elderly, etc), although the negative impacts of relocation on social networks were mitigated by the benefits of escaping the social conflicts and annoyance in the original neighborhood, and were compensated by the improved housing conditions. Generally, the key argument of this study is that policy makers need to pay more attention to the disadvantaged class; in other words, the government needs to assume its role more actively in redistribution and social equity.


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