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"The housing supply for rural migrants in medium-sized Chinese cities: between developmentalist and social objectives"
Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris
LabEx DynamiTe - Laboratoire d Excellence « Dynamiques Territoriales et Spatiales »
Geography Cultures and Societies 
Full Description:

Research Proposal:

The twofold economic and urban
transition in China has resulted in a spectacular rise in real estate
values. This situation has an impact in particular on the hundreds of
millions of migrants from rural regions who are not eligible for social
benefits in urban areas. Forced to promote social inclusion, the central
government launched an ambitious medium-sized city urbanization program
for 2004-2010 based on the massive integration of rural migrants. The
incentive to migrate to 3rd and 4th tier cities takes the form of the delivery of an urban hukou (“passport”) and public subsidies to acquire housing.
Several bodies of research have revealed
the central position of residential production in the Chinese economy
and its focus on property ownership (Wu, 2015; Theurillat, 2015). Such
choices arise from strategies shared by “developmental States” in
northeastern Asia (Developmental States, Johnson, 1995), marked
by “residual” development of social protection (Ronald and Doling,
2010, 2012) and “financial repression” (maintaining the level of
low-interest savings) that makes housing both an essential consumption
good and a favored savings tool. However, these policies compete with or
even contradict the goal of social inclusion that the central
government wishes to promote in medium-sized cities and that it intends
to impose on local governments already facing financial stress. With
precarious poorly-paid jobs, migrants are no better candidates for
property ownership than the sub-prime borrowers were in the United

The research presented by the “Producing
the “ordinary” city” Work-Package aims to reveal the tensions between
these contradictory visions while showing the dynamics that they trigger
in the process of residential production in medium-sized cities in
China. Such an approach—which should provide a significant contribution
to the understanding of dynamics at work in the production of “ordinary
cities”—breaks away from the frequent approach to social housing in
China focused on inequalities in access to housing. The analysis will
cover two differing case studies: Datong, a mining city with a
population of 1.5 million undergoing industrial reconversion, and
Zhuhai, an urban entity covering a population of 830,000 within a very
dynamic conurbation in the Pearl River Delta.
Initially, the candidate will be invited
to use a qualitative method to provide a multi-scale and relational
reading in each of the areas studied allowing understanding of how
housing policy choices are arbitrated between developmentalist and
social visions based on interaction dynamics among the various levels of
government (central, provincial, municipal and district governments)
and with local stakeholders (private and public promoters, credit
establishments and industry, notably). Then, the research shall focus on
a detailed description of these affordable housing supply chains,
whether official (housing aided by the government authorities) or “de
facto social” (private rental housing). At the conclusion of the thesis,
the doctoral student shall be encouraged to draw up a diagnostic of
each city’s affordable housing supply structure and potential housing
stock—notably vacant housing held by multi-property households—to house
migrants. This applied dimension of the thesis, which also calls on
quantitative methods (statistical data processing, GIS), is explained by
the fact that the doctoral contract is part of a European project
(MEDIUM, see below) that aims, among other things, to create dialogue
between researchers and decision makers in the area of urban planning.

Posted on: 29 March 2016Deadline to apply: 04 May 2016Start Date: 01 September 2016 Duration: 36 months
The Fund category is Mixed Funding and the salary is 15-20k€ annual gross
in the Ile-de-France Region.

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