PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2013, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (9): 1362-1373.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2013.09.006

• Special Column: Space-time Behavior and Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Progress in space-time behavior research in China

CHAI Yanwei, TA Na   

  1. Department of Urban and Economic Geography, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2013-07-01 Revised:2013-08-01 Online:2013-09-25 Published:2013-09-25

Abstract: As a unique perspective for understanding the complex relationships between human activities and urban environments in space and time, the space-time behavior approach has become an influential methodology in China's urban geography since 1990s. Aiming at promoting communications and exchanges among urban geographers in different contexts, this article provides a critical review of space-time behavior research in China. Ever since time geography and activity-based model were introduced to China's urban geography, space-time behavior research in China has benefited from the fruitful theoretical and methodological progress made in Western geographical research. On one hand, GPS and mobile phone tracking technologies have been integrated into activity-diary surveys to collect more accurate and real-time activity-travel information. On the other hand, advanced statistical models and geocomputational and 3D geovisualization methods have been adopted in more recent empirical literature in China. Yet, while Chinese urban geographers have made more methodological progress in data collection and analytic tools thanks to the development of GPS and GIS technology, theoretical development still lags behind. However, space-time behavior research in China, with planning-oriented characteristics, offers a unique framework for understanding urban transformation in China. It has become a new perspective for understanding the complexity and diversity of human behavior patterns in the transitional cities in China. In other words, space-time behavior research tries to describe and interpret urban spatial structures and spatial reconstructing in urban China from the perspective of individuals' behaviors. The impacts of danwei-based urban spatial organization and its disappearance, as well as the impacts of suburbanization on individuals' daily activities, have been studied carefully. Especially, this approach emphazes how spatial restructuring impact individuals' daily life experiences, which in turn are related to the issues such as life quality, social equity and environmental sustainability. Urban geographers in China have begun to apply the space-time activity approach to the socio-spatial issues in the cities by focusing on daily-activity experiences of low SES (socioeconomic status) populations. And the development of the low-carbon city movement in China has prompted the application of the space-time behavior approach in understanding the impacts of land use characteristics on travel-related carbon- dioxide emissions through individuals' travel decisions. At the same time, planning practices based on the space-time behavior approach is carried out in urban transportation, tourism, and urban planning. The space-time behavior approach has become a very useful human-oriented approach to land use and transportation planning in China. The article concludes by discussing key theoretical and practical challenges for future development of space-time activity research in China.

Key words: China, planning practice, time geography, urban transition, words:space-time behavior