Main content area

Evolution and transformation mechanism of the spatial structure of rural settlements from the perspective of long-term economic and social change: A case study of the Sunan region, China

Li, Hongbo, Yuan, Yuan, Zhang, Xiaolin, Li, Zhi, Wang, Yahua, Hu, Xiaoliang
Journal of rural studies 2019
case studies, developing countries, globalization, rural areas, rural population, social change, urbanization, China
Being the world's largest developing country and having a vast rural population and large swaths of rural areas, China has experienced complex historical periods. However, few studies provide general summaries of spatial evolution of rural settlements, particularly the evolutionary contexts of complex historical processes. Considering that China's society, economy, and spaces in urban and rural areas have entered a phase of rapid restructuring in response to economic globalisation and the new urbanisation in recent years, exploring and summarising the general evolutionary path of the spatial structure of rural settlements over a long period of time constitute a particularly important research objective. This study examined Sunan region, an ideal representative epitomising the modern history of China, as a case area, results found that the evolutionary process of spatial structure of rural settlements could be categorised as discrete and isomorphic, centripetal and hierarchical, branching and dual, and diversified network system follow the historical periodisation. Rural spatial structure has experienced three moments of transformation under the trend of urban-rural mutual interaction, thus mechanism is driven by internal and external forces under economic and social change over different periods, evidently in contemporary era. Although rural settlements have manifested diversified developmental patterns in China, theories and methods that are applicable to domestic situations are still urgently needed to summarise the evolutionary mechanism and to provide vital channels for the national strategy of rural revitalisation in the process of urban-rural integrated development.