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Jiang Jun Examines Housing in China

by Natalia Echeverri

Jiang Jun, editor-in-chief of Urban China Magazine, gave a talk on Chinese housing at the SCOR "Social Housing - Housing the Social" symposium in November 2011. His presentation, "China Housing: The Dilution and Reformation of Collectiveness," is a fascinating summary of transformations in Chinese housing over the past century.

Agricultural China: Courtyard House. Source: Urban China

Jun argues that housing in China coincides with the structure of families, explaining how both have changed through societal restructuring. He categorizes housing paradigms as representative of three general eras: Agricultural China (feudal society), Industrial China (post-revolution) and Urban China (post-1980).

Industrial China: Danwei (Socialist) Compound. Source: Urban China

Jun shows how housing types in each of these eras reflect different economic, social, political and cultural influences. For example, the courtyard house associated with Agricultural China was privately owned, economically self-sufficient and organized by family or clan. The Urban China housing paradigm is framed by government policy and global real-estate speculation.

Urban China: Residential Complex. Source: Urban China

While Industrial China certainly doesn't end in 1980, industrialization fueled the transition from rural to urban that characterizes China today. Jun adds that China is now shifting from production to consumption, and the influence of this process on families and housing is beginning to emerge.

It is worth watching the video of Jun's lecture (embedded above) for more detail on his research and historical insights on housing in the world's most populous nation.

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