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The Government Next DoorNeighborhood Politics in Urban China$
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Luigi Tomba

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452826

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452826.001.0001

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Housing and Social Engineering

Housing and Social Engineering

(p.88) 3 Housing and Social Engineering
The Government Next Door

Luigi Tomba

Cornell University Press

This chapter introduces the social and cultural engineering behind the two decades-long project of housing privatization and its wide-ranging impact on the redefinition of urban social distinction through extreme forms of residential segregation. It argues that the increase in residential segregation is greatly influenced by the state's strategy of selective incentives, which favored groups “within the system” over others. Individual housing careers and access to material resources is therefore determined by one's position with respect to the system of public employment. Residential settings reflect the structure of access to homeownership created by subsidization policies and is consistent with other policies to “make” a high-consuming cluster of society. The chapter challenges the normative assumptions generally made about the role that the middle class can play in pushing China toward democratization and reveals how the growth of a property-owning middle class is the result of a process of social engineering.

Keywords:   social engineering, cultural engineering, social policy, housing policy, housing privatization, urban housing, residential segregation, Chinese neighborhoods, middle class

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