Friday, 12 February 2016

Housing the Knowledge Economy in China: An Examination of Housing Provision in Support of Science Parks

Julie T Miao, University of Glasgow

I was delighted to be awarded an early career grant from the Regional Studies Association (RSA) which enabled me to explore the potential disjuncture between the centralised social-institutional arrangement and the decentralised techno-economic system in China. I was inspired by the studies (such as Peck & Zhang, 2013) on the emerging Sino-capitalism regime but disappointed by the reductionist ‘neoliberalism’ label that broad-brush China’s distinctive social and economic evolution. As a scholar who witnessed China’s reforms over the past three decades, I am more than aware that the Central government retains a firm hand over a wide range of social-institutional management and activities. Ironically, the faster economic ‘neoliberalism’ has advanced, the more the state has asserted bureaucratic-authoritarian control over its social affairs, because of the fear for social disturbance.
Within this context I focused my attention on three science parks, specifically the imbalance between housing provision and labour market within and surrounding these science parks, to explore the disjuncture between China’s social and economic subsystems. The three science parks chosen were: Beijing Zhongguancun Science Park (Z-Park); Shanghai Zhangjiang Science Park (Z-SHIPs), and Wuhan Optics Valley of China (OVC). They were selected because the housing-labour imbalance is at its most acute around these industry agglomerations. Three research aims were set for this project:
   (1) To profile Chinese policy evolutions and governance for labour markets and affordable housing; 
   (2) To identify disjunctures in the different mixes of state-market relations in different regions;
   (3) To discuss civil society and government responses to emerging problems.
This paper on ‘Housing the Knowledge Economy’ mainly addressed the latter two questions, in particular the awareness of social housing providers to the housing needs of knowledge workers. These issues were analysed mainly through secondary data, complemented by interviews with local and national authority and science parks’ managers. This method was chosen because the supply (rather than demand) effect of social housing was the main concern of this paper. Based on extensive documentary coding and analysis, it was found that for China as a whole, its labour market has been liberalised to a similar extent as that in the West, but Beijing is still the ‘central command centre’ in setting targets for social housing construction, which has resulted in a substantial disjuncture between where people work and where they live. Nonetheless, regional variations were prominent.
In Z-Park, where the most acute work-home imbalance was identified, the local authorities were least explicit in their social housing (or even commercial housing) commitment. Along with spatial expansion of Z-Park outside the central districts of Beijing, more social housing (financed by the municipal government) for Z-Park employees was provided around it. In Z-SHIPs, attention to the housing needs of science park employees was much more noticeable than Z-Park. But what made Z-SHIPs stood out was its reliance on the private rental sector, whereas the municipal government offers small subsidy to on-park workers. In OVC, where the land constraint was not as severe as in the other two cases, the real estate sector has long been identified as the pillar of local development. Social housing was public financed and distributed, and often located far from city centre, in a pattern similar to Z-Park. But the much more aggressive real estate development in OVC might distract the public resources, such as land and capital, from industrial development.
By distinguishing China’s social-institutional and techno-economic domains, this research could uncover the multiple faces of the widely debated Sino-capitalism. Another novel aspect of this research lies in identifying the possible inconsistent pace towards neoliberalism both temporarily and regionally, which in turn could hamper China’s overall system function. This draws policy attention to a systematic approach in promoting knowledge economy. A following paper from this project, which is based on questionnaire survey of knowledge workers, will explore further such inconsistencies around the three Science Parks from the demand side.  

Creative economy policy in developing countries: The case of Indonesia 
Fikri Zul Fahmi, Philip McCann and Sierdjan Koster
University of Groningen
Economic growth policies based on the creative economy have arrived in Indonesia. Widely adopted in Anglo-Saxon and European countries, the Indonesian government has recently embraced the idea. A ministry was established to coordinate the creative economy sector especially. The goal is to inspire the growth of creative industries as a driver for local economic development. However, the national policy formulation and the local implementations and interpretations are importantly divorced. This can jeopardize the anticipated outcomes. Local forces and path dependence appear strong. Cities rich in traditional culture interpret the creative economy discourse in terms of traditional handicraft businesses and tourism. Meanwhile, in more advanced cities, the ‘real’ creative industries are already growing and the local government started to be aware of the difference between creative industries and long-established traditional businesses which focus on heritage, conservative values. Yet, it is visible that in both situations, local governments use the creative economy policy to reinforce what is already there.

This is what we found in Bandung, Surakarta and Yogyakarta, the first three cities to implement the creative economy policy in Indonesia. Bandung is the only city in which the interpretation aligns with the general understanding of a creative economy that emphasises innovation and new knowledge creation. Meanwhile, in Surakarta and Yogyakarta the term creative economy is used, while it refers to existing ‘traditional’ cultural economic activities – batik and traditional crafts - which have been in operation for years. These different interpretations are governed by several factors. Firstly, in Bandung there were ‘intermediaries’, especially The British Council, university actors and epistemic communities, who introduced the creative economy discourse and directed the local government’s interpretation towards the creative economy concept. Secondly, related to this, these intermediaries helped structure local assemblages and influenced local policies so that the creative economy not only became a development discourse, but also an important strategy embodied in local policies. In comparison, the creative economy was applied by the national government in Surakarta and Yogyakarta as ‘pilot projects’, but at the end of the day, the local governments in these cities decided to focus on traditional cultural industries as these industries are big and have been cultural attractions in these cities. Thirdly, there is a strong attachment to traditional culture in Surakarta and Yogyakarta, making it politically challenging to prioritize a ‘modern’, innovative creative economy like in Bandung.

The creative economy idea has become a temptation for many governments in Asian developing countries. However, often this means copy-pasting the word  ‘creative economy’ without considering whether the concept is suitable for local contexts. The Indonesian case thus provides insights for other developing countries. So, can stimulating a creative economy be the way forward for developing countries? It can, in some cities. There would be some cities that will be ready for this ‘creative turn’, while for others continuing the development of tradition-based economic activities might be more relevant. This, of course, depends on what the local government wants to do: developing the ‘innovative-style’ of creative economy, or rather protecting traditional values in cultural industries. Governments clearly can do both, but they need to acknowledge that the accompanying policy strategies as well as the expected economic gains importantly differ. For example, to support a ‘real’ creative economy, it is crucial to develop a climate  that allows creative industries or entrepreneurs to collaborate and build networks. Meanwhile, to support the traditional cultural economy, supply-side support seems important, as the small businesses involved in the sector are  vulnerable and have a limited capacity to highlight and economise cultural values. Given the weak articulation of the national policy and the different local interpretations, the creative economy policy in its current form is unlikely to become the silver bullet the Indonesian government wants it to be.

City of go(l)d: Spatial and cultural effects of high-status Jewish immigration from Western countries on the Baka neighbourhood of JerusalemCity of go(l)d: Spatial and cultural effects of high-status Jewish immigration from Western countries on the Baka neighbourhood of Jerusalem

Hila Zaban
SOAS University of London, UK

My article “City of go(l)d: Spatial and cultural effects of high-status Jewish immigration from Western countries on the Baka neighbourhood of Jerusalem” discusses high-status privileged migration to Israel by Jews from Western countries, and its influences on one of the places where they settle – a Jerusalem neighbourhood called Baka.

My interest in the topic started from a resident’s perspective, as an Israeli-Jew who suddenly found herself in an English/French speaking environment, where housing prices were going up rapidly, new housing solely built and marketed for wealthy newcomers and where the cultural atmosphere was very accommodating for migrants, and less so for Israelis. I wanted to understand the processes at play and the immigrants’ perspectives.

The article discusses privileged migration to Israel, an ethnic immigration country, where the sole criteria for immigration is Jewish origin. I am dealing particularly with immigration of Jews from Western countries – the United States, France and the UK. The way Diaspora Jews imagine Israel and Jerusalem plays a crucial role in their decision to move there. Many immigrants choose to live near other expatriates in order to enjoy the comforts of the ethnic enclave. The paper deals with the outcomes of such choice, in terms of the spatial and cultural implications that privileged lifestyle migration has on the space in which it settles.

While Jewish immigration to Israel is termed “aliya” and their immigration is perceived as a homecoming, I choose to term it as a type of lifestyle migration, in order to place it among larger trends in contemporary immigration and the literature concerning it. By so doing, I aim to contribute to the understanding of the effects lifestyle migration has on cities, neighbourhoods and housing markets and to elaborate the understanding of who lifestyle migrants are, what motivates them and how they live in their destinations.

The paper focuses on the case-study of English- and French-speaking Jewish immigrants who live in the Baka neighbourhood in Jerusalem and on their effects on the neighbourhood’s gentrification process, its real estate market and issues of consumerism and belonging. This case-study demonstrates how lifestyle migration links with urban transformation. While gentrification has more often been studied in the global north, this paper shows that neoliberal processes, like gentrification or the global flow of capital and investments, are indeed much more encompassing.

While much has been written on the topic of gentrification, there is not so much on the combination between gentrification and immigration, and particularly high-status lifestyle migration, defined as the mobility of relatively privileged individuals in search for a better quality of life. Similar processes currently occur in many places and therefore, the spatial politics of privileged migration and its impact on cities, neighbourhoods and housing markets is a story that needs to be told. Moreover, as lifestyle migration has mainly been researched in the context of rural or coastal tourist destinations, this urban case-study illuminates a somewhat blind spot of this literature.