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Tracing ChinaA Forty-Year Ethnographic Journey$
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Helen F. Siu

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9789888083732

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888083732.001.0001

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The Cultural Landscape of Luxury Housing in South China

The Cultural Landscape of Luxury Housing in South China

A Regional History

(p.297) 14 The Cultural Landscape of Luxury Housing in South China
Tracing China

Helen F. Siu

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter attempts to use the “fever” for luxury housing in post-Mao Guangdong to highlight a historically specific circulation of cultural meanings in the making of a regional landscape. Many regions of China experienced a building boom in the 1990s. Overseas Chinese capital, particularly that from Hong Kong developers, has partially shaped the skyline of coastal metropolitan areas such as Beijing and Shanghai—luxury housing estates, shopping malls, five-star hotels, golf courses, and clubs. Private housing markets in these cities have grown with remarkable speed and intensity, and a large portion of this growth is fueled by government danwei providing units for employees to purchase at subsidized prices. Where private developers enter the market to offer affordable choices, families have explored the “one family two systems” strategy in housing as they have in jobs. One member may explore entrepreneurial ventures while another holds onto state sector allocations for basic security. In pursing their own intimate spaces in a more mobile housing situation that allows residents to straddle state and market, are they redefining social hierarchies that have previously been shaped by bureaucratic agenda and political privilege? Have their notions of place-based identities and loyalties changed by the new housing choices?

Keywords:   Rural-urban divide, China, Hong Kong, Anthropology, Social changes, Political changes, Identity formation, History, Culture, modernity

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