Dissertation Abstracts

Economic Reform and the Comparative Development of Major Chinese Cities

Author: Green, Matthew , greenm8420@cod.edu
Department: Department of Sociology
University: University of Arizona, USA
Supervisor: Joseph Galaskiewicz
Year of completion: 2010
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: China , global cities , urban development , political economy
Areas of Research: Regional and Urban Development , Social Transformations and Sociology of Development , Comparative Sociology


My dissertation is a comparative case study of the developmental trajectories of eight major cities within the People’s Republic of China during the post-economic reform period of 1978 to 2010: 1) Hong Kong, 2) Guangzhou, 3) Shenzhen, 4) Shanghai, 5) Beijing, 6) Tianjin, 7) Shenyang, and 8) Wuhan. Theoretically, I situate this study within the existing research on globalization and cities, most notably work on global cities or world cities, as well as research considering the impact of globalization on the nation-state. By documenting the economic and urban development of each city and analyzing data on various municipal-level indicators (e.g., population growth, foreign direct investment, political connectivity), I attempt to present the causal conditions explaining why some Chinese cities – Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong – have developed into global cities, whereas other cities – Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Tianjin – have adopted more secondary roles within the Chinese urban system. In addition, I aim to account for why more peripheral cities – Shenyang and Wuhan – have not experienced a comparable level of urban and economic growth. Particular consideration is given to how the development of each city during the post-reform period has been tied to the economic and political policy decisions of the Chinese central government, as well as the importance of political connections between municipal officials and state leadership for attaining global city status.