PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2021, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (1): 171-182.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2021.01.016

• Typical Cases of Rural-Urban Integration Development • Previous Articles    

Process and mechanism of the commodification of rural space in developed areas: A case study of Xixiang Village in Suzhou City

HU Xiaoliang1(), LI Hongbo1,2,*(), ZHANG Xiaolin1,2, YANG Jiahui1   

  1. 1. School of Geography Science, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China
    2. Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and Application, Nanjing 210023, China
  • Received:2020-05-22 Revised:2020-08-24 Online:2021-01-28 Published:2021-03-28
  • Contact: LI Hongbo;
  • Supported by:
    The Humanities and Social Scierces Financed by Ministry of Education(20YJCZH069);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41501187);National Natural Science Foundation of China(42071224);Natural Resources and Technology Program of Jiangsu Province(KJXM2019009)


Due to the rapid urbanization, rural areas in China is undergoing drastic transformation and reconstruction, showing a diverse scene of rural spatial differentiation. With the transformation of rural areas from agricultural production space to multifunctional space such as production, living, and ecological, the potential value of spatial elements such as human settlements, natural landscapes, history, and culture in rural areas is gradually emerging. Examining the research theme of the commodification of rural space can meet the requirements of theoretical development and practice. There exist only a few studies on the commodification of rural space conducted by the Chinese human geography community, which is still in its infancy, and the discussions on the formation mechanism of rural space commodification lack depth. Using field surveys and unstructured interviews, this study took Xixiang Village of Suzhou City as a study case to examine the process and mechanism of rural space commodification in developed areas. Field surveys conducted in Xixiang Village in September and October 2019 investigated the village building layout, industries, and residents' lifestyles. Seventeen respondents were interviewed on issues concerning the development and change of the village, production and daily life, and tourism development. The results show that the commodification of rural space is a process in which rural space itself gradually becomes a kind of commodity under market economy conditions that can obtain profit. The spatial connotation of this process embodies in space representation and space practice. From the perspective of space representation, the commodification of Xixiang Village space expanded from the commodification of agricultural products in the rural space to the commodification of the rural space itself, which was accompanied by the transformation from a single agricultural production space to a multifunctional space combining production and consumption. From the perspective of space practice, based on the actor-network theory, the commodification of space in Xixiang Village is driven by the connection of various heterogeneous actors inside and outside. Common interests of all actors are the basis of the network development, and the subjectivity and agency of non-human actors must be given full attention.

Key words: rural space, commodification of rural space, rural restructuring, actor-network theory, Xixiang Village of Suzhou City