"Unsettling High-density Development in Hong Kong: Production of Space, Spatial (In)justice and Everyday Life"

  • TANG, Wing Shing (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Hong Kong is a high-density city, the characteristics of which have only been selectively studied, and it is the objective of this research to make up this deficiency. The literature is found wanting as high density is usually conceptualised as things but not social processes, its technical dimension emphasised at the expense of the social one, and the objective conditions prioritised over social and spatial aspects of everyday life. To redress this imbalance, the research proposes a more nuanced analysis of unsettling high- density development that emphasises the role of processes and space. It draws on Lefebvre’s production of space within three spatio-temporal levels and everyday life, and Dikeç’s spatial dialectics of injustice. The former argues that urban space is increasingly produced for the market under state planning and regulation and commodity production. One trend is the disappearing of the town and countryside variation. In this process, based on their everyday practices, people develop dreams, social values, desire, etc. about their living environment and the way that it and the society should prosper. Focusing himself on the issue of social justice, Dikeç challenges the reduction of it to redistribution and, instead, put forward the process argument. While unjust social processes generate various spatial outcomes, spatial processes cause injustice. By combining the two, this research proposes to interrogate high-density as the production of space and investigate the accrued issue of social injustice. This is to be achieved by, first at the territorial level, examining the landed and property development process and the concomitant high-density outcome in Hong Kong since the 1950. Second, it elaborates the concretisation of this process, at the district level, in Sham Shui Po, a highly densed district with its specific historical geography and abundant poor, elderly and immigrant population. The locally mediated territorial processes again meet, at the individual level, with the everyday practices of residents living there. There will be ‘participation observation’ of 20 households for the purpose of elaborating their everyday practices together with the issue of social justice. This research employs a rich array of methods to decipher the physical, mental and social spaces of these residents. Having drawn on the process approach and a case study, the research is able to comment on the sources of generating high-density, the extent to which everyday life practices in high- density environment has perpetuated socially produced injustice, and the possibility of removing injustice.
Effective start/end date1/01/1330/06/16

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities


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