Globalization, Urban Planning and Cosmopolitanism in Shanghai, China (1978-2004)


This document was processed and submitted to the university institutional repository, the Pace Digital Commons, on January 16, 2007.

Document Type



My research topic started with an umbrella question: What is the nature of modern urban development in China, especially in the major cities, and its potentially destabilizing effects on Chinese society? The focus of my research involved the exploration of the nature of modern Chinese urban development vis-a-vis the effect of participation of businesses (namely MNCs), governments (various levels, from central to municipal), and finally the public (in China, popularly known as the common folk). This project took me to Shanghai, China in summer 2005. My methodology, admittedly unrefined, was to explore academic literature (especially primary sources in Shanghai), and to explore the urban landscape of Shanghai where I spoke with locals so as to gather a more well-rounded understanding of the situation. Through compounding and analyzing statistics, I found that the pace of urban development, guided by Chinese government and corporate collaboration, often led to the exclusion of the greater public in decision-making, thereby contributing to a growing resentment that was concealed through media censorship and control of immigration. However, this potentially destabilizing force was somewhat offset through government actions, sometimes in the form of economic relief and other times, through brute force.

Since the topic covers an extensive range of possible areas for further exploration, it was extremely difficult to obtain all the required information to fully substantiate this thesis in the time given (i.e. Summer 2005). I fully intend to use this project as a springboard for a future research in my graduate studies. Furthermore, having graduated from Pace, I am now employed and have recently been assigned to my company's office in Beijing. I am now formulating other views and perspectives that will be useful to refining my thesis. In brief, I have contemplated using the transformation of the Chinese city, from 1st to 2nd tier cities and from old neighborhoods into private, luxury residences, to symbolize the emergence of new "class boundaries" within the socialist system. To aid this analysis, I may also perform a brief exploration into the importance of land ownership across cultures.

Due to the scale of the topic I intended, and still intend, to research, I often found myself overwhelmed and obstructed by various agents, including unfamiliarity with the chinese archival and academic system and the red tape that had to be circumvented to obtain information. This was not only frustrating, but also obstructive to the progress of my research. Needless to say, there was somewhat of a learning curve involved. However, due to Dr. Joseph Lee's presence on-site in Shanghai, I received invaluable assistance and guidance through my two months in China. Furthermore, I was able to establish relations with several Shanghainese professionals, mostly through Dr. Lee's introduction. Back in New York, I also received significant assistance and guidance from Dr. Salerno. who helped me hone my ideas and refine my methods of analysis. I found his book, "Landscape of Abandonment," particularly useful and may use it to reinforce some of my theories behind the process of urban development in China. Overall, my experience with this paper reinforced my desire to continue with my graduate studies in Urban Planning. Thanks to the efforts and contributions of my faculty mentors as well as various individuals I have met through the course of this project plus the Presidential Grant Committee at Pace, I believe that I will be able to execute this undertaking successfully.

Information about the Student Author

Class of 2006, Major: Sociology

Summary of Research Experience

See above for the combined abstract and summary of research experience.

Dissemination of Results

Due to personal and work commitments in Singapore and China, I have been unable to follow up on the dissemination of my paper, though I was informed by my advisors before my departure from the U.S. that they intended to submit it for publication and conferences after further editing. However, this has been problematic due to my commitments at home and at work as well as the fact that I am now operating in a time zone that is 12 hours ahead of New Yok. Still, I apologize for my lack of enterprise on this issue.

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Roger Salerno, Professor of Sociology (Primary) and Dr. Joseph Tse-Hei Lee, Associate Professor of History (Secondary)

This document is currently not available here.