”Understanding China’s urbanization from the perspective of the real estate industry “

aagAnnual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) 2015, Chicago, April 21-25
Call for papers : Special session ”Understanding China’s urbanization from the perspective of the real estate industry “, sponsored by the China specialty group

Organized by Natacha Aveline (CNRS/University Paris I-Panthéon Sorbonne) and Thierry Theurillat (University Neuchatel, Switzerland)
China’s real estate industry has become a major pillar of China’s economy. The past decade has seen a widespread increase of land and real estate values, followed by downward trends in some cities. This has raised discussions amongst scholars on the possibility that China was experiencing a property ‘bubble’ (see for example Zhou, 2005; Liu and Sun, 2009; Jianling, 2010; Wu et al., 2012).

However, this scholarship tends to favor a macro approach based on data analysis of property prices at city level, ignoring the complex mechanisms that are at work in the process of land development and building construction. Such mechanisms include: financial channels to the real estate industry; institutional and organizational arrangements underlying property development; differentiated access to primary resources for building construction (especially land and finance) according to the developer’s status. Starting from the assumption that these aspects play a significant role in the formation of property prices, this special session intends to shed light on the various processes of value creation in China’s cities, while contributing to the debate on the so-called ‘speculative bubble’ (or more precisely, ‘bubbles’. (Aveline-Dubach, 2014).

During the 2000s, China’s urbanization was clearly identified as an economic model based on land income for local government and related to the political and institutional changes since 1978 (Aglietta and Bai, 2013; Keith et al., 2014). With decentralized decision-making processes often based on interpersonal relations (Zhu, 2005 ; Li and Li, 2011), many scholars emphasized the role of the state and debated about the nature of the “emerging neoliberal urbanism” in China (He et Fu, 2005 et 2009 ; Cartier, 2011 ; Zhu, 2011). The ‘entrepreneurial’ approach of the local state and the formation of “local growth coalitions” (Zhu, 1999) with local developers, some of them being state-owned enterprises, have been identified as key features of local real estate dynamics in China (He et Wu, 2009; Wu, 2010; Cartier, 2011 ; Zhu, 2011). However, the institutional and cultural specificities of the demand for property have seldom been addressed (Hu, 2013) as scholars have focused on public finance (Gaulard, 2013; Wong, 2013).

In order to have a more integrated and transversal approach of the mechanisms involved in China’s urban production, this special session would welcome papers dealing with the following topics: real estate and urban production (e.g. role and business models of development and construction groups in China; evolution of national and local regulatory frameworks regarding land development and building construction), urban financing both on domestic and international levels (e.g. banking finance, trust financing, foreign direct investment, financial markets and stock exchange) and the role of the households for the urban property/ownership (residential and non-residential property).

Abstracts of 250 words (maximum) should be submitted to Natacha Aveline-Dubach (aveline@jp.cnrs.fr) and Thierry Theurillat (thierry.theurillat@unine.ch) by October 30. Please remember to include your name, institutional affiliation and contact details on your submission.


Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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