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postgraduate thesis: Social capital and urban regeneration in Chinese historic cities: a case study of Xi'an

TitleSocial capital and urban regeneration in Chinese historic cities: a case study of Xi'an
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Ng, MK
Issue Date2010
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Zhai, B. [翟斌庆]. (2010). Social capital and urban regeneration in Chinese historic cities : a case study of Xi'an. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4730670
AbstractWith rapid urbanization since the 1990s, many Chinese historic cities have faced the dual challenges of regenerating dilapidated historic inner urban areas and promoting local economic development. Rampant urban redevelopmentoriented planning and practices have been undertaken in many places. While bringing enormous economic returns, this trend also poses many threats to the character of the historic cities. Literature on urban regeneration shows that local communities should play an active role in regenerating a place in addition to other key actors such as the government and the private sectors. Local communities also play a critical role in conserving the indigenous lives of historic residential districts. Social capital enables local communities to act together to pursue shared objectives in the community-based regeneration processes. Based on this theoretical premise, the study seeks to examine the role of social capital in the regeneration of Chinese historic cities. This thesis aims to provide a historical and contextual understanding of the evolution of urban regeneration in Chinese historic cities. The thesis also explores the role of social capital in the current controversies surrounding urban regeneration in transitional China. In the current mode of urban regeneration governance in China, local governments often play a dominant role as both redevelopment advocates and project managers. Private developers are actively involved while local indigenous residents are often excluded from the regeneration processes. Urban regeneration practices in Chinese historic cities are often conducted through urban conservation-cum-redevelopment strategies to spur local economic growth and improve the physical environment. Since the focus is on the conservation of the physical environment, many local indigenous lives have to be excluded and relocated to give way to local redevelopment projects. The lack of community involvement in local regeneration processes severely undermines the goals of comprehensive urban regeneration and integrated urban conservation plans. Xi’an, a typical Chinese historic city, has been chosen as the study site. Two solid local case studies have produced the following major findings. In the Drum Tower Muslim District, traditional Muslim lives and businesses have sustained a vibrant local economy. Together with cohesive community relationships, this thesis argues that the historic Muslim district can actually sustain a self-regeneration process, given proper maintenance of the dilapidated urban infrastructures by local governments. The question is an institutionalized mechanism to facilitate this kind of regeneration. The implementation of the government-led regeneration projects within the Sanxuejie Historic District, where community relationships are weak with low level of social capital, was more “efficient”. However, it also means that regeneration efforts were less comprehensive and indigenous lives of the original neighborhoods were not conserved. To achieve the goals of comprehensive urban regeneration in historic cities, this thesis maintains the following: (1) the conservation of indigenous lives and local socio-cultural elements is important for local regeneration plans; (2) a strong social capital contributes to the conservation of local indigenous lives by facilitating community involvement in local urban regeneration processes; and (3) an institutionalized community participatory mode of urban governance is essential for a comprehensive regeneration plan at the local level.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectUrban renewal - China - Xi'an Shi.
Social capital (Sociology) - China - Xi'an Shi.
Dept/ProgramUrban Planning and Design

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorNg, MK-
dc.contributor.authorZhai, Binqing.-
dc.contributor.author翟斌庆.-
dc.date.issued2010-
dc.identifier.citationZhai, B. [翟斌庆]. (2010). Social capital and urban regeneration in Chinese historic cities : a case study of Xi'an. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4730670-
dc.description.abstractWith rapid urbanization since the 1990s, many Chinese historic cities have faced the dual challenges of regenerating dilapidated historic inner urban areas and promoting local economic development. Rampant urban redevelopmentoriented planning and practices have been undertaken in many places. While bringing enormous economic returns, this trend also poses many threats to the character of the historic cities. Literature on urban regeneration shows that local communities should play an active role in regenerating a place in addition to other key actors such as the government and the private sectors. Local communities also play a critical role in conserving the indigenous lives of historic residential districts. Social capital enables local communities to act together to pursue shared objectives in the community-based regeneration processes. Based on this theoretical premise, the study seeks to examine the role of social capital in the regeneration of Chinese historic cities. This thesis aims to provide a historical and contextual understanding of the evolution of urban regeneration in Chinese historic cities. The thesis also explores the role of social capital in the current controversies surrounding urban regeneration in transitional China. In the current mode of urban regeneration governance in China, local governments often play a dominant role as both redevelopment advocates and project managers. Private developers are actively involved while local indigenous residents are often excluded from the regeneration processes. Urban regeneration practices in Chinese historic cities are often conducted through urban conservation-cum-redevelopment strategies to spur local economic growth and improve the physical environment. Since the focus is on the conservation of the physical environment, many local indigenous lives have to be excluded and relocated to give way to local redevelopment projects. The lack of community involvement in local regeneration processes severely undermines the goals of comprehensive urban regeneration and integrated urban conservation plans. Xi’an, a typical Chinese historic city, has been chosen as the study site. Two solid local case studies have produced the following major findings. In the Drum Tower Muslim District, traditional Muslim lives and businesses have sustained a vibrant local economy. Together with cohesive community relationships, this thesis argues that the historic Muslim district can actually sustain a self-regeneration process, given proper maintenance of the dilapidated urban infrastructures by local governments. The question is an institutionalized mechanism to facilitate this kind of regeneration. The implementation of the government-led regeneration projects within the Sanxuejie Historic District, where community relationships are weak with low level of social capital, was more “efficient”. However, it also means that regeneration efforts were less comprehensive and indigenous lives of the original neighborhoods were not conserved. To achieve the goals of comprehensive urban regeneration in historic cities, this thesis maintains the following: (1) the conservation of indigenous lives and local socio-cultural elements is important for local regeneration plans; (2) a strong social capital contributes to the conservation of local indigenous lives by facilitating community involvement in local urban regeneration processes; and (3) an institutionalized community participatory mode of urban governance is essential for a comprehensive regeneration plan at the local level.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B47306701-
dc.subject.lcshUrban renewal - China - Xi'an Shi.-
dc.subject.lcshSocial capital (Sociology) - China - Xi'an Shi.-
dc.titleSocial capital and urban regeneration in Chinese historic cities: a case study of Xi'an-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb4730670-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineUrban Planning and Design-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b4730670-
dc.date.hkucongregation2010-

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