UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Industrial restructuring and the formation of creative industry clusters : the case of Shanghai's inner city Zhong, Sheng


In the past two decades, Shanghai has seen a wrenching decline of its traditional industrial sector and then a proliferation of new economy spaces on its derelict industrial sites, the most notable of which are over seventy “Creative Industry Clusters” (CICs) accredited by the Municipal Government. Based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, including case studies, semi-structured in-depth interviews, questionnaire surveys, literature review, site visits and observation, photography and mapping, this research found that the vacant spaces resulting from state-triggered industrial restructuring initially accommodated the spontaneous concentration of avant-garde artists and creative workers, a process that was later superseded by local state's deliberate planning of creative clusters with the cooperative efforts of both property interests and restructured state-owned enterprises. The processes of inner city changes in Shanghai suggest that the city’s urban restructuring followed a post-socialist rather than post-Fordist trajectory, with the local state exerting significant influence on the outcomes of urban transformations. And in the whole process, the local state was not just dominating, but also remained flexible at certain point in time so that social learning could take place to help it guide future transformations. In addition, the formation of CICs in Shanghai also reveals major differences of China’s “pro-growth coalitions” from its western counterparts. In particular, the Chinese state plays a stronger role while local communities are largely absent from the scene or only temporarily visible. In addition, the dissertation also provides policy recommendations on four inter-woven aspects of Shanghai’s CIC formation, namely social justice, industrial agglomerations, land-use planning and the support for the arts and culture. These four aspects represent the social, economic, physical and cultural dimensions of Shanghai’s CICs respectively.

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