International Development Planning Review

Village resettlement and social relations in transition: the case of Suzhou, China

International Development Planning Review (2019), 41, (3), 269–291.


China's modernisation and urbanisation are transformative, for places and people. Recently, under agricultural land consolidation and resident resettlement, a large number of rural villagers have been thrust into a compressed process of rural-urban transition. How are resettled villagers integrating into urban society? Specifically, how do they build and rebuild social relations – an important dimension of integration – in the new living environment? In what ways do the new relations resemble and differ from pre-resettlement patterns and those seen among regular residents? To answer these questions, we focus on a community of resettled villagers in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, compared against a reference group of residents in a nearby commercial housing complex. Our analysis of residents' social interactions draws from data collected though a questionnaire survey, supplemented by in-depth interviews. We find that most of the resettled villagers' social relations are place bound both before and after resettlement, with less detectable changes as opposed to differences from their counterparts in the reference group.

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