Urbanization in Peri-Urban Taiyuan: The Relationship Between Social Infrastructure and Economic Livelihoods

Authors: David Bachrach*, University of Colorado, Boulder
Topics: China, Urban Geography
Keywords: China, Urbanization, Peri-urban, Social Infrastructure
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 51
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Based upon fieldwork in Taiyuan, Shanxi, China, this presentation discusses the importance of social infrastructure in understanding the effects of urbanization on local communities’ social and economic lives. Infrastructure has been conceived in many ways, from physical systems, such as an electrical grid (Larkin, 2013), to a network of people (Simone, 2004). Social infrastructure is another type of infrastructure that is neither exclusively a physical system that delivers necessities nor is it purely composed of people. Rather, social infrastructure is physical space that promotes community-building, which is both economically and civically beneficial (Klinenberg, 2018; Latham and Layton, 2019). Social infrastructure can take many forms. One form is a traditional courtyard style home. In peri-urban Taiyuan, traditional courtyard style homes are a physical space that promote community bonds which underpin the informal economy. As urbanization changes the social infrastructure of a community, it is important to consider how a community’s economic livelihoods are related to certain forms of social infrastructure. By centering social infrastructure in this presentation’s analysis of urbanization in peri-urban Taiyuan, this presentation aims to contribute to a growing body of literature in Chinese urban studies that problematizes top-down and predominantly economic analyses of urbanization in China.

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