Risk Cultures in China: An Economic Sociology?

2006 – 2009
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This collaborative project, involving researchers from COMPAS, Goldsmiths, Aarhuus University and Shanghai University, investigated the sorts of risk involved in the construction of markets in China. It used qualitative, sociological research based on six detailed case studies. In each case, researchers looked at how given organizations or firms, together with a number of other economic and political agents, form a network to construct a market.

These networks were chosen for study insofar as they are comprised of a group of such subcultures, involved in signalling behaviour, information transmission, communication and trust relations. One strand of the research was based in Shenzhen, addressing the interface between urban change, migration and ‘dwelling’ in the city. Working with researchers from the Shenzhen Academy of Social Science, the project interviewed over 200 migrants to the 'villages in the city' (chengzhongcun), which are residential areas established by Shenzhen's original villagers and the upmarket xiaoqu, or small neighbourhoods, built by real estate companies that synthesise Foreign Direct Investment, municipal interests and private capital in the emergent property markets of the city.

Principal Investigator

Michael Keith
Jacob Arnoldi (Aarhuus University)
Scott Lash (Goldsmiths)


Tyler Rooker (Goldsmiths and COMPAS)
Wang Xiaoming (Shanghai University)


The Economic and Social Research Council