Critical Perspectives on Chinese Cities

Chinese Urbanism: Critical Perspectives is a collection edited by Mark Jayne and published by Routledge. It is reviewed for JCA by Kosmas Tsokhas.

The review notes that the collection aims to “apply alternative empirical and theoretical approaches based on practices, processes and subjectivities in relation to party-state neo-liberal urbanism.”

Tsokhas questions whether this approach/es really are alternatives to the mainstream. They may be more influenced by cultural studies than econometrics and demography, but the result is attention to the wealthy and the middle classes.

The reviewer notes an “explanation of how urban space is distributed within and between industries and how it is experienced by different classes needs to start with an examination of the way surplus-value is extracted in the labour process into profit of enterprise, interest and ground-rent from land-based or property investment.” That said, the reviewer argues that “we should not dismiss the ideas and themes presented by Jayne and his colleagues. They invite us to investigate how the concentrations and centralisations of the ownership and control of capital in concert with the party-state has led to the formation of a Chinese capitalist class enlivened and sustained by affective, embodied and performative practices.”

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