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Gating or de-gating? The rise of the gated village in Beijing



Urban gated communities have become increasingly common worldwide in both academic and policy discourse over recent decades. In contrast, gated communities in rural areas, a newer phenomenon, are rarely analyzed. This paper focuses on the unique phenomenon of gated villages that have emerged in the Beijing metropolitan area. We aim to explore the content, mechanism, heterogeneities etc. of gated villages, and how they differentiate from urban gated community. Five gated villages were selected for fieldwork and 27 semi-structured interviews were conducted with villagers, migrant tenants, heads of village committees, local government officers, and academics. Based on the framework of structuration theory, this paper analyzes the mechanism behind the formation of gated villages, which differ from urban gated communities. Based on the case studies, this paper concludes that: (1) the formation of the gated village is the culmination of interactions between complex dynamics of regional elements and the intellectual responses of various actors under the context of transitional rural China; (2) although the gated village appears similar to urban gated communities, it is in essence a new institutional tool of social management rather than a simple transfer of existing gated community structures into rural regions; (3) the consequences of the gated village are in general positive and can be enhanced by restricting physical size and by improvement of government-village co-operation.