Historicised exploration and middle-range theoretisation of the housing regime in urban China

Haitong MO, Yuting LIU, Yung YAU

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


In comparative housing studies, the positioning of the Chinese housing regime is contested as to whether it converges to a (neo)liberal path or is a unique hybrid model. This paper argues that these disputes derive from the static and ethnocentric nature of welfare regime typologies and the inadequate political vision in explaining the housing regime in urban China. This study is dedicated to advancing the discussion with a historicised inquiry and a more holistic view of a balance of causes. The grounded theory methodology is adopted to avoid the omissions and biases of the priori knowledge. The materials analysed include 473 national policy documents, conference reports and official media reports in housing, economic, political and other related areas. We summarised three progressive stages of housing regime in the (quasi-)authoritarian and post-developing contexts, from 1) an underinvested social housing sector to reserve sufficient funds for industrialisation, 2) a real estate boom with a residualised social housing sector, to 3) enlarging social housing provision for productive groups under the overinvested and crisis-ridden real estate market. We attribute China’s housing system to the productivist feature with authoritarianism and the pursuit of nation-building and economic development in a post-developing state, with the underlying logic of capital switching.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Housing Policy
Early online date11 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

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© 2024 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • capital switching
  • comparative housing studies
  • grounded theory
  • housing policy
  • Housing regime
  • middle-range theory


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